“I’m not sure, “ I responded. “But it is the most powerful one. Do you know what that means?”
We talked about how reckless words pierce like a sword, but wise words bring healing (Proverbs 12:18), and then I asked them, “So, what can this most powerful muscle do in terms of our words?” And this is what they said (I quickly wrote down their insightful thoughts on the back of my dry cleaning slip): Our words can ________.
· Hurt or Help
· Teach and Tell
· Give joy; make others happy; make others smile
· Bring comfort
· Break people; comfort others
· Get all tangled up
· Give courage
· Grow others towards Jesus
Upon getting home, and still a bit curious about her technical question regarding the muscle itself, I did some research. The bottom line is that it is debatable whether the tongue is really the strongest muscle in the body. Depends on how you define strength. There is absolute strength (maximum force), dynamic strength (repeated motions), elastic strength (exert force quickly) and strength endurance (withstand fatigue). Is this getting too technical? Stick with me. Some would say the heart is the strongest, others the gluteus maximus (yes, that which you are sitting on), and still others the masseter muscle in your jaw.
However, regardless of which one wins out, I think we can agree that the tongue possesses all the characteristics of strength, through the words that it makes. It has maximum force speaking words for good and for evil and dynamic strength, as we are constantly communicating. It can exert force quickly, by blurting out criticism or quickly encouraging, and it can help others to withstand fatigue through words of faith.
Our tongue – it may not move a heavy object, but it can move someone to tears, to joy, to action or belief. It may not lift a bar bell, but it can lift someone’s spirits. The tongue may not carry a basket, but it can carry the good news of hope. It may not walk a mile, but it can walk along side someone with encouraging words. It may not hold our bodies upright, but it may hold up someone else in a time of weakness. And sadly, it may not knock down a building, but it may knock down a heart; it may not hurt with a punch, but it may suffer a blow to the soul.
Dear Lord: I pray that I would be ever mindful of my words. Please provide me with the grace to speak out when the time is right, and hold my tongue at other times. Help me to use gentle words, wise words, words filled with truth and beauty. Please grant me mercy when I misuse my words, and help me to make amends. Let my words be pleasing to you, Lord. Amen.