Positive Power of the Tongue
- January 09, 2015
- Ashlee Johnson
The power of the tongue is often talked about in Christian circles in a negative context. The warnings of Scripture are real and profoundly true; James tells us that “no human being can tame the tongue” and that “[i]t is a restless evil full of deadly poison” (3:7). But Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” There is tremendous, life-altering power in one statement of specific encouragement, blessing, or affirmation spoken into a hurting soul.
I recently read Brennan Manning’s moving memoir, All is Grace. Manning is most well known for his book Ragamuffin Gospel and has been a beacon of the unmerited, free, and unconditional love God has for his children. Manning’s description of his childhood is saddening: he grew up in the home of an alcoholic father and an orphaned, wounded mother. In short, he grew up without the affirmation that he was cherished, significant, or capable. Brennan Manning was raised in a household dripping with shame.
Manning remembers well the simple, yet trajectory-changing, statement his freshman speech professor made in response to his first ever public speech, “Richard, you’ve been given a great gift. Use it well.” Manning states, “That was the very first time anyone had said anything about my ability to speak… I’m hesitant to say my professor’s words changed everything, but they did change something, something about how I saw myself. Sometimes one sentence can stand up against years of hearing ‘He won’t amount to much.’” [Emphasis Added]
This Sunday our church will celebrate an annual opportunity we call the Blessing Service. It is intended to be an antidote of sorts to our striving efforts for self-improvement in the New Year. Instead of simply making vows to God about how we will be better in 2015, each individual family will receive a blessing, a specific promise from the Scriptures spoken over them in faith and expectation of God’s movement on their behalf. Many, many people (some of whom have never really heard a positive potential spoken over their lives) will come to receive a blessing and hear about the hopeful future available to them in Christ.
One statement just might change something. One Christ-centered promise from the Scriptures spoken into the eyes of a shriveled soul might birth hope in the midst of despondency. One blessing said specifically and personally might shine light into a dark, cavernous pit of isolation. One hand on the shoulder and tender voice proclaiming the promises of God might bring freedom and rest to the wearied, worn-out, and dried-up.
Our church’s Blessing Service comes around once a year, but each morning we wake up with the power of life available in our tongues. Just think what confidence, belovedness, and significance we could sow into our spheres of influence over a lifetime of ordinary days in which we ask God to use our tongues to bring life.