The Power of the Tongue : Thursday Thoughts
     Phillips Memorial Baptist Church

Phillips Memorial Baptist Church
565 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, Rhode Island  02910


Rev. Dr. Amy Chilton:

  Pastor Amy's Thursday Thoughts

The Power of the Tongue

by Rev. Dr. Amy Chilton on 09/14/23

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which He looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are His body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

~ Teresa of Avila


A few times lately I’ve found myself saying something like, “my ears heard something come out of my mouth before I realized I’d said it.” Usually it is something funny. Because I’m always funny. Ok, not always. But, a woman can dream! I am sure I’m not the only one who sometimes speaks before I think!


Do you know that there are 8 muscles in the human tongue? Whether or not the tongue is the strongest set of muscles in the human body is debatable, but we do know that the strength of the tongue is its ability to offer healing or harm, to give praise or to cut down.


We can use our tongues to offer praise to God - which seems the height of what it can do! In Psalm 119:172, the Psalmist promises, “my tongue will sing of your promise, for all your commandments are right.” Our tongues can also offer healing, welcome, and grace to fellow persons on the journey of life and faith. Proverbs 15 puts this possibility in poetic form: “the tongue of the wise dispenses wisdom” (v. 2), “a gentle tongue is the tree of life” (v. 4).


The words we say to others can bring life, can be a means by which God’s grace moves in this world. Simple words to a stranger who walks through our sanctuary doors might offer healing in place of past harm: “you are welcome here,” “God’s love is for everyone.” Think about how those words might offer healing to folks who have been marginalized or harmed previously by the church.


But, the tongue can do harm as well, which is its flip-side. The teacher in Proverbs alternates each of the beautiful lines above with the truth of the tongue's ambivalent power: “perverseness in [the tongue] breaks the spirit” (15:4). Power in the tongue? Indeed! The teacher proclaims a few chapters later that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21).


I suspect that you can pull up old memories of times a person spoke harshly or hatefully to you - and perhaps these memories still bring up the hot shame or anger you might have felt at the time the words were uttered. So, you can easily imagine how destructive it is to hear someone say something along the lines of, “all are welcome here, except [whatever you are],” or “how dare you do [whatever you did],” or “[insert any number of dismissive, unkind, or unhelpful statements].” For its small size, the tongue can cut to our very center.


Here is what I pray - that each of us would be aware of the power we have to heal or harm others with our words, our tones, and our body language. Our tongues are powerful - and folks carry with them for a very long time the healing or harm that our tongues have done. So, speak kindly to each other and be humble and ready to extend an apology to those you have hurt (and I am definitely including myself in this “you”!).


In the words of Paul, “be ready to do whatever is good. …not to speak evil of anyone or to be quarrelsome….be forbearing, and display perfect courtesy to all” (Titus 2:1b-2). You are the mouth of Christ in this world, sometimes the only mouth from folks will hear the good spoken!




Pastor Amy


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