The Forgotten Vital Organ
by Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. – Proverbs 18:21
I have decided that many, many medical textbooks are wrong. Each and every one of them has actually left out a vital organ. Yes, they’ve remembered the heart and the brain and even that strange thing called a pancreas (I know it’s important, I just forget why sometimes). But look through the books all you want, and you’ll find not one mention of the most obvious vital organ of all: the tongue.
Then again, I myself often choose to ignore the importance of the tongue. I’d rather not believe it has “the power of life and death.” I’d like to pretend my tongue is more like an appendix or a gall bladder – easy to forget about because it’s not that important – but that’s just not the case. Snapping at my family when I’m tired, nagging, and complaining all release a poison from my tongue that works its way through my whole being (James 3:6). Not only that, I infect others with my attitudes and motivations. I begin to spread a disease.
Contrast that with the “words of the wise,” as Proverbs says many times. Their words heal and strengthen as they spread encouragement, wisdom, peace, and the Gospel message. Oh, and – get this – the wise actually use their tongues less than other people. The more powerful the tongue, the less it needs to be used. It’s like the heart of a well-trained athlete – when someone is really in shape, the beats per minute actually decrease as the heart becomes more and more efficient. In the same way, why don’t I condition my tongue to speak fewer words with more meaning?
In Genesis 1, God spoke into the darkness, and there was light. Those “mere words” created something from nothing, showing the power of speaking out. My pastor in college told us that this verse had meaning for us, too, since we are created in God’s image. We are meant to speak out and bring light from the darkness as He did. That’s the power of the tongue in a crazy world. The question is whether we choose to speak light or just add to the darkness.
That little muscle called the tongue holds the power of life and death. That’s no small matter. So let’s be careful how we exercise it.
Ezra 10:10-12 10Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.” 12The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say.
When Ezra had heard how the remnant had broken God’s law by marrying the pagan women of the land, he tore his robes and wept and fasted. The people followed his lead and were convicted of sin. It was the people who encouraged him to tell them what to do to set things right with God. Ezra replied with the verses above; confess and do God’s will. Separate yourselves from the people and wives who had those horrible demonic religious practices.
We do not live in Israel and were never forbidden to marry a certain group of people, but the principle remains true. That is why the Apostle Paul told us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). That could apply to marriage or business. When we find we are with people of evil practices, we should not commit ourselves to any type of united endeavor with them. How can two walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3:3)?
But there is a deeper principle. What fellowship does light have with darkness? If we are walking in the light, we will be repulsed by sin and have a desire to show those in darkness the way to be freed from its bondage. Some Christians will play on the edge of the cliff of sin because the allurement is enticing them. Coach Bill McCartney said, “Draw a line where there is a danger of being caught by sin and stay ten yards back.” Don’t walk along the very edge of a cliff.
In this final chapter of Ezra, the men sent their foreign wives and children away. That seems very harsh of God, but the situation existed because of disobedience to God. It was the only remedy. Not dealing with the issue had caused the downfall of Israel in the past. We must cut off from our lives that which is enticing us to sin and send it away from our lives if we are going to go on with God.
Streams in the Desert – August 31
- 202131 Aug
Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29).
How strong is the snare of the things that are seen, and how necessary for God to keep us in the things that axe unseen! If Peter is to walk on the water he must walk; if he is going to swim, he must swim, but he cannot do both. If the bird is going to fly it must keep away from fences and the trees, and trust to its buoyant wings. But if it tries to keep within easy reach of the ground, it will make poor work of flying.
God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength, and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead, and then take God for the whole work; and when he looked away from himself, and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able to perform.
That is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith.
–A. B. Simpson
I do not ask that He must prove
His Word is true to me,
And that before I can believe
He first must let me see.
It is enough for me to know
‘Tis true because He says ’tis so;
On His unchanging Word I’ll stand
And trust till I can understand.
–E. M. Winter
According to today’s passage, He saved us “so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). We are not the shining stars of salvation; God is. He saved us in order to display His grace, which is His undeserved favor toward us.
God didn’t bestow grace on us at the moment of salvation, only to leave us on our own to live the Christian life as best we can. No, He lavishes it on us every day of our life. Through Scripture, His grace instructs us how to live righteously in this present age, and it empowers us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11-12).
Once God extends His favor to us through Christ, He will never take it away. We are saved by grace, we live in grace, and we will be recipients of it throughout eternity.