I have ever heard such a story: A chieftain of a tribe asked a boy to cook two dishes for him: One of them must be the best thing in the world, and the other the worst. Soon the boy finished the dishes. The first was the sliced ox-tongues. The boy said that the tongue was the best thing of mankind because it could say the just words to encourage people to succeed. It could also say the warm words to unite people together with love. Hearing this, the chieftain agreed with the boy very much. Then the boy served the second dish which was the same as the first one. The boy said that the tongue was also the worst thing in the world. It could say the words that made people angry and upset so that they would be sad and hopeless. The tongue also was good at telling lies, which could cause people to be jealous and dispute, thus destroying the relationship between people. Hearing his words, the old chieftain nodded.
Indeed, the tongue is our speaking instrument. When we have goodwill toward others, we will say the words which will benefit and edify them. But when we have malice toward others, and complain about and pass judgment on them, or when we commit deceit intentionally, our words will make them painful and discouraged, which will not edify them.
Thesaid: “Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11). And the Bible says: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10-11). All these words are teaching us that in conducting ourselves and speaking, we should have a heart to seek beauty and goodness. What’s more, we should have a heart that reveres God, and always watch our tongues to speak no guile because our mouths are controlled by our hearts. So if we don’t have a heart of eschewing evil and doing good, the words from our mouths will be full of evil, which do not edify others.
In our real lives, we often say some words against the truth since we don’t watch our tongues. For example, when something against our will befalls us, we will easily say the words of complaining about and misunderstanding God; when someone threatens our personal interests or positions, we will pass judgments on him in secret, intrigue against him, and discriminate against him; when our families or friends do something not according to our intentions, we will become angry and begin to lecture them; when we have done something wrong but don’t dare to admit it, we will try to defend ourselves by speaking guile; and so on.
Thus, the little tongue seems insignificant, but it is the outlet of our hearts. Even sometimes our careless words can show if our hearts are honest and if we fear God and glorify God.
How can we know which words we should say and which words we shouldn’t say? How can we watch our tongues? I read in a book some words that are very good: “When you don’t understand what God’s attitude is, don’t speak carelessly, don’t be careless in your actions, and don’t carelessly apply labels. Even more, don’t arbitrarily come to conclusions. Instead, you should wait and seek; this is also a manifestation of fearing God and shunning evil” (“How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work”).
“Do not do things that do not benefit the lives of the brothers and sisters, do not say things that do not contribute to other people, do not do shameful things. Be just and honorable when doing all things and make them presentable before God” (“How Is Your Relationship With God”).
These words show us the path of practice in speaking and doing things. On one hand, we should always have in our hearts an attitude of reverence for God. In whatever situation, we should speak with a heart of waiting and seeking. We should not speak at will or even judge as we wish, but we should fear God in heart. Before we say anything, we should pray to God more and seek His will more. I believe that when we have such an attitude of reverence for God, He will surely protect us because of this. On the other hand, when we get along with others, we should accept God’s observation and should not say the words that are shameful and don’t contribute to others. We should be just and honorable when speaking and doing all things, and should interact with others with the fear of God. When we practice like this, we will always be watchful and live before God’s presence.
All the good and beautiful things come from God. As long as we have fear and kindness in our hearts, what we say can benefit both ourselves and others whether we are before God or others.