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"Real Muscle Power"
by Barbara Smith

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . . "
(Proverbs 18:21)

The comparatively small human muscle, the tongue, is made up of many groups of muscles that we can consciously control to move food, swallow or speak. By the power of the words we speak, we can bless or to curse those within earshot. (James 3: 1-11) Jesus Christ showed how we can restrain this powerful muscle that God created, and He gives believers the power to do it.

Yet, sadly, if we are tired, disappointed, embarrassed or angry, we may inflict the force of this powerful muscle - often on our children and spouses - as we hurry and worry our way through our daily chores. We try to compel our children with the force of sharp words when we admonish those who are upsetting or interrupting us. We choose to ignore the example of restraint that the Lord Jesus set in the Gospels record. We don't imitate His tact and gentleness, even when those closest to Him misbehaved. We forget to apply the power He puts at our disposal so His pattern of conversation can be our pattern.

He never blustered:
"James and John, quit fighting before I really let you boys have it!"(Mark 3:17)
"Do you know what your problem is, Peter? You are self-centered!" (Luke 22:31)
"You just never learn, do you Philip?"(John 14:9)
"Will you quit fidgeting with that, Martha? Why can't you be like your sister Mary, and sit quietly?" (Luke 10:38-42)

We fail to reprove with gentle, but firm words because we are too impatient or too lazy to exercise the power He gives us. We try to accomplish with our tongues that which the Lord says only prayer and perseverance will accomplish. However, a tongue lashing will not produce the fruit of righteousness in our children. When have angry words directed at us, restrained us?

Recently, I saw two incidents that reminded me how we fail to use the power of the tongue to train the little ones entrusted to our care. First, as I hurried toward the grocery store, I saw an attractive young woman, also dashing into the store. A child, who gripped her hand, skipped to keep up. The little girl who seemed jolly and excited to be with her, chattered and cavorted by her side, while the woman kept walking, her eyes straight ahead. Suddenly the woman loudly snapped at the child: "Stop It!" Chastened, the little girl paused but then resumed her gay little march. Next, the woman jerked the child to a halt, and harshly threatened to spank the child. As I let them pass ahead of me to enter the grocery store, I saw the child's now unhappy and bewildered face. Next, when I was loading bags of groceries into the car, two young boys darted between me and the cart, momentarily stopping my chore. Their father roughly pulled one little boy aside. Faulting the boy loudly for self-centered blindness, he berated him sharply.

Both adults wielded a type of power that evening, perhaps unaware of the force their tongues exerted on the young lives in their care. Both scenarios reminded me of how I exercised the muscle power God gave me: the power of life or the power of death -- to bless or to curse. (James 3:9) Our tongues wield the power of life and death, as surely as knives and guns.

Not only did the Lord form our mouths and tongues, He gave us the gift of speech, knowing the destructive power of such a small muscle. (Exodus 4:11, James 3:5-6). We serve God poorly when we fail to exercise properly our powerful muscles; but we do not surprise Him. "Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all." (Psalm 139:4)

Moreover, as He promised Moses, He promises us that "I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."(Exodus 4:12) If teaching Moses to speak to Pharaoh was not too difficult for God, then He can show you and me how to pause and consider what we want to say to our families.

Thankfully, our failure to admonish our children in a godly way does not overturn the Lord's power. To His praise, our fury does not defeat God. However, why should you and I give God another obstacle to overcome in our children's lives because of our poor exercise habits?

I wish I had been as mindful of the power I wielded before I had tried to corral our kids by angry outbursts! I have been so annoyed with my children's youthful exuberance that I snapped and snarled as if my angry words could restrain their rambunctiousness and restore my personal peace. I loudly condemned their embarrassing childish lapses without pointing out a more excellent way with "an instructed tongue." (Isaiah 50: 4) What I have said, therefore, has not comforted, convicted or edified.

Based on my less than stellar track record, I urge mothers who are bugged by their busy, bouncing daughters to remember the power their tongues wield. I entreat fathers who are embarrassed by their sons' exuberant capers to recognize the force their tongues exert. Moms, be a woman like the one whom Proverbs praises: "She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26) Parents, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, with salt," the Lord urges, "so that you may know how you should respond to each person." (Col 4:6)

Are you ready to "work-out?"
God puts the capacity within our reach. How can kindness be on our tongues? How can we season our speech with live-giving salt? How will we know how to respond to each person?

  • He gives us the power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, to lower our voice! (Ephesians 1:19-21)
  • He gives us the kindness that is on the tongue of the Provers 31 woman, and self-control and patience. (Galatians 5:22)
  • And He lavishes wisdom upon us without reproach. (James 1:5)
  • Moreover, "He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. . . ." (Ephesians 3:20-21)
But don't just sit around waiting for these gifts to drop from heaven . . . ask Him!

Taken from:
Growing Up Homeschooling,
(or learning what we wanted the kids to take to heart)

Due Summer, 1998
Pre-publication order from:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012
$8.95 plus 3.00 postage (Maryland residents add 5% MD sales tax)

© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.

Please send a copy of the publication to:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012

We hope our thoughts encourage you in the Lord Jesus Christ who has enabled us to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined -- please let us know what YOU think. E-mail us at workbook@toad.net. (Please don't forget to include your e-mail address with in the body of the message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient e-mail addresses.)


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