My husband, David, likes to play jokes on me. He often tells me things just to get a reaction out of me so the morning he woke me up to tell me I needed to go outside and look at my car, I rolled over and went back to sleep. When he came in a second time, I knew there might be some validity to his concern. I pulled myself out of bed, put my robe on and strolled out to look at my car. NOTHING.
I was somewhat irritated that I had been disturbed from a beautiful morning of sleep to look at nothing! Suddenly, he pointed to the hood. There were what seemed to be large “tongue” marks across the hood of my car. As I looked closer, however, I noticed that there were also large teeth marks! My horse had found the hood of my car to be quite tasty overnight and used it as a giant salt lick. Since that seemed to be satisfying, he obviously decided to use it as a chew toy!
My reaction to this event was surprising to both my husband and myself. I took one look at the hood, then at my husband, shrugged my shoulders and said, “I don’t even know what to say.” With that, I turned around, walked inside and crawled back into bed. As I lay there trying to go back to sleep, I began to chuckle. Of all of the things that have happened at the Perry home, this was one of the more bizarre. I pondered several ways of telling the auto body shop about this one before drifting back to sleep. Four hundred dollars later, we removed his chew toy from licking distance.
Just as my horse’s tongue caused a great deal of damage, so can our tongue when we use it to “bite” other people. Have you looked at your tongue lately? If not, take a minute to stand in front of the mirror and stick out your tongue. Can you believe that little thing can be so powerful? With this one little muscle we have the power to enhance or destroy the lives of those we love. But don’t take my word for it. God’s Word has a great deal to say about the tongue.
Proverbs 6:16-19 says that there are some things about the tongue that God hates. While hate is a strong word, God must feel strongly about a lying tongue, a false witness and a man who stirs up dissension among others. According to these verses, He really hates when people cause dissension. So why do people do it? Most of the time, it is all they have ever known. They have grown up in an environment where dissension was the norm, and they don’t know any differently.
Have you ever met someone who is divisive? They are not difficult to spot. Maybe you have even received a phone call from “Ms. Divisive.” As soon as you pick up the phone, she begins telling you something about a person that you really like. Sometimes we pay it no attention. Sometimes, we begin to question our own opinions about that person and by the time we hang up, we have “curious” feelings about that person we really liked before we answered the call. That is an act of dissension. As followers of Christ, we are to remove ourselves from things that God hates and according to Proverbs, this includes divisive acts with the tongue.
How can we avoid using our tongues in a divisive way? I have found the best way to stop divisiveness is to be grateful. There is something about using our tongue to speak words of gratitude that changes our perspective and takes us to a place of peace. The next time you are in a conversation where someone is speaking negatively about a person, challenge him or her to find something positive about that person. Just TRY it! When we have an “attitude of gratitude,” our perspective shifts and our divisive thoughts shift to praising God instead. It’s all in what we decide to “chew” on.