In a country church of a small town, an altar boy, serving the priest at Sunday mass, accidentally dropped the cruet of wine. The priest harshly slapped the altar boy on the cheek, and in angry voice, shouted, "Leave the altar and don't come back!" That boy became Tito, the Communist leader. In another cathedral of a large city, an altar boy, serving the bishop at Sunday mass, accidentally dropped the cruet of wine. With a warm, gentle look in his eyes, the bishop lovingly whispered, "Someday you will be a priest." That boy grew up to become Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Proverbs 18:21 states, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Victor Hugo said, "Be it true or false, what is said about men, often has as much influence upon their lives, and especially upon their destinies, as what they do." Words are spirit, producing either death or life into people or situations. R. Whitman Seaman warned, "Words can be daggers plunged into the soul, and their wounds can leave scars for life."
In Matthew 12:36, Christ Jesus said, "But I say to you for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." The word "idle" means "out of work." When our tongue is out of work, and not being used for useful purposes, it can cause immeasurable destruction. Proverbs 15:4 declares, "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit."
The Tongue Defiles
James wrote in 3:6 that the tongue "defiles" which means, "to spot or stain."
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting his great masterpiece, The Last Supper, he became angry with a friend. He spoke cruel and hurtful words to him, threatening his friend with vengeance. Returning to his work, he began to paint the face of Christ. He discovered, however, that he was so disturbed and upset that he could not compose himself sufficiently for the delicate work required of him. He immediately went out to seek his friend, humbled himself, and asked for his forgiveness. Then, in possession of a calm spirit, he was able to give the Master's face the tender expression that he knew He must have.
Proverbs 21:23 admonishes, "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble." Caution, "To unspeak a word you have spoken is no more possible than to unpick a flower you've already picked!" "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one," Colossians 4:6.