EVER wince at the sharp words that occasionally pass between people? It can be just as a New Testament writer says: ``The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!''1 But there is balm for the tongue. Actually, it is healing balm for the troubled heart, which moves the tongue to speak as it does. This healing is found in the gracious teachings given to us by Christ Jesus, teachings that can convince the heart of our God-given worth while ridding us of the anger and frustration that might be causing the sharp tongue.
Consider, for example, Jesus' words ``Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.''2 If taken to heart, they can cure a sharp tongue.
Those who humbly, meekly yield to God's will in thought and action are blessed. Blessedness is happiness and more. It is happiness founded on a lasting spiritual base. It is not in any way dependent on circumstances. And there is no room in a heart that feels this blessedness for any of the angry thinking that can cause the tongue to lash out.
Of course, meekness, like gracious words, can't simply be applied like paint. Instead, it pours forth naturally from a deepened understanding of just how God's love for man works.
God is divine Love itself, the sole creator of man and the universe, and God's love for what He creates acts as divine law. Therefore it is the force that governs all. Far from abandoning man to the rule of negative impulse and reaction, God gently maintains and governs each individual identity in His creation through this rule of spiritual love. The need is to begin to recognize this spiritual truth and yield to it by putting off the ``old man'' and putting on the new, to echo St. Paul's words.3
One might think that a sharp tongue is curbed only by a mighty struggle within oneself, that learning to keep quiet involves strong human willpower. Isn't it true, though, that such a view can result in frustration and an inner seething (because although the tongue is silent, the thoughts in the heart continue to roil)?
The rule of God's love is quite different. Yes, it does result in greater self-control. But the influence bringing this control is divine. It comes from God alone and is not a product of the human mind. It's the influence of the healing Christ and Holy Ghost, which does more than just restrain an unpleasant character trait. It initiates a spiritual baptism. Not only does our manner of speaking change, but our entire way of thinking and living can begin to shift, to become purer. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``The baptism of the Holy Ghost is the spirit of Truth cleansing from all sin; giving mortals new motives, new purposes, new affections, all pointing upward.''4
Of course, victory over a less-than-kindly tongue may not seem easy. But daily prayer for ourselves can help greatly in this work. Such prayer might be the simple acceptance of ourselves as the pure and innocent child of a loving God. Part of this innocence, of course, is accepting without resistance the loving demand of meek behavior placed on us by the Father.
A few kindly words can go a long way. Our newspapers, radios, televisions, government and political circles, the work world, our homes and schools -- all are filled with words, every day. Think of the possibilities for good as we turn those words toward greater love and graciousness.
1James 3:5. 2Matthew 5:5. 3See Ephesians 4:21-24. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 204.