During the Vietnam War, military intelligence released a warning to all soldiers regarding the existence of a very poisonous snake, that if bitten by it, a person would take “two-steps” and die. Because Asia was home to many venomous snakes, many believed the “two-step” did not actually exist but was only a ploy to make sure the soldiers avoided all snakes!
Although very few of us will actually ever cross paths with a venomous snake, we either have been bitten or are in peril of being bitten by a much more deadly snake…WORDS.
Words have the power to destroy marriages, wreck churches, ravage relationships, tarnish reputations, poison minds, and leave a path of ruin in their wake. Other deadly poisons of the tongue are gossiping, bragging, flattery, false teaching, putting others down, manipulating and lying. We may not intend for our words to cause pain, but Satan will certainly use them to cause harm if we are not careful.
How much thought do we give before we speak?
Is this the RIGHT time to speak or should we wait until emotions are cooled?
How much care do we give to the tone of our voice?
Even a casual sarcastic comment or critical observation followed by the glib, “just joking,” can inflict a deeper, more deadly wound than that of the “two-step” snake. (Proverbs 26:18-19)
On the positive side, words can have the power to repair a marriage, revive relationships, restore reputations, heal minds, strengthen the fabric of faith and leave a path of encouragement and comfort (Proverbs 16:24).
In speaking to each other, my two tweens were having difficulty using their words in a positive way. So, for the summer months, I issued a challenge.
Every time their Dad or I caught one of them calling names (even in-jest) or using hurtful words, the perpetrator had to pay the other two dollars.
Their motto for the summer was this, “If you can’t think of something positive to say, then say nothing at all!”
During the first few weeks, money was rapidly exchanging hands! Now, however, mid-way through our summer challenge, there is only the occasional retribution payment
So, Friend, I extend the same challenge to you.
If for one week someone paid you five dollars for every kind word you spoke and you had to pay them five dollars for every unkind one, at the end of the week would you have more or less money in your wallet?
For riding lessons, my daughter’s mount is a male Percheron named Charlie. He is a HUGE horse! Yet, my daughter can direct this powerful animal over jumps and around barrels by controlling the tiny bit in his mouth.
James tells us that the one who controls his tongue can “bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).
Only through submission to the Holy Spirit can we tame our poisonous tongue (Psalms 141:3). Like Isaiah, we need a hot, heavenly coal to sear our tongue so that our words are killed and HIS heavenly words are ignited! We need to speak when HE prompts and be silent when HE says, “be silent.”
Isn’t it interesting that the same letters that spell “listen” also spell “silent?”
A Practical Tip
Put into practice the T.H.I.N.K Formula before you speak to ensure that your words are never poisonous!
T – Is it True?
H – Is it Helpful?
I – Is it Inspiring?
N – Is it Necessary?
K – Is it Kind?
If what I am about to say doesn’t pass the T.H.I.N.K. test, then I am to keep quiet.
This week, may the words we leave with people be a gift, rather than a poisonous snake bite.