I once saw a movie called Wallace and Grommet, and the Were Rabbit. I won’t spoil it, but part of the premise is that there is a beast latent in all of us and that we can tap into it from time to time. Same theme resident in Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hide.
I don’t know all about that, but I do know that we have a beast inside of us. It’s not hiding. In fact, you show it to almost everyone you meet. You use it nearly every minute of every day. You couldn’t live without it. This beast helps you eat, it helps you swallow. It forms a whistle. It tastes an ice cream. And if you let it, this beast will ruin your life.
The beast I’m talking about is the tongue. The problem with this little beast is how inconsistent it makes us. James 3:9 says this:
With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
How can we do that? Suppose you are an artist and someone says, “I love you but your work stinks.” Or suppose you were a father and the person comes to you and says, “I love you but I hate your kids.”
Yet we do that all the time.
One of the great illustrations of this was Winston Churchill. He had this marvelous tongue. And with it he bolstered the nation in her darkest hour. In a speech deliverd to the House of Commons after the fall of France Churchill’s eloquent tongue was up to the task:
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.”
Churchill could also use that brilliant tongue as a weapon of brutality against nuisances and foes. One political adversary named Lady Astor once said in frustration:
Lady Astor: “Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.”
Winston: “Nancy, if I were your husband I’d drink it.”
Funny, but hurtful. How can such beautiful words of encouragement come from the same sharp condescending thing? I don’t know. But it does. It does with me. And if we are going to be consistent we must learn to control the tongue.