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A wife is crushed as her husband freezes her with the silent treatment. A husband is bruised as his wife carps and criticizes him. A child crumbles as bullies isolate and shame her. An employee falsely praises his boss. Whether it’s the silent tongue, the critical tongue, the bullying tongue, or the flattering tongue, the Bible has one description of them all: “A perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15:4; NIV). If I’ve just described your tongue and its fracturing power, then you need a spiritual glossectomy and transplant.

The good news is that this can be done by the work of the Holy Spirit rather than by the knife and needle of a surgeon. By God’s grace, you can learn to use your old tongue in new ways, in ways that give life rather than crush it. The same verse in Proverbs says, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” This “gentle tongue” (or “soothing tongue”; NIV) is literally a “healing tongue.” Let’s take a closer look at this healthy tongue.

A Healing Tongue Speaks

God gave us a tongue to speak. While there is a time to be silent, there are also times that silence cracks a spirit. Silence can be used as a weapon in the home or the workplace.

But if silence between people is damaging, silence between God and people is deadly. When we speak to Him, we connect with the source of all life and healing. That will develop grace in our tongues and loosen them to speak words that warm hearts rather than freeze them.

What will happen if we talk to God and others like this? We will begin to praise with our tongues.

A healthy tongue unites us to God and to others. No longer divided from God, we commune with Him and enjoy His presence.
A Healing Tongue Praises

When we speak to God, ask for His mercy, and pray for His forgiveness, life courses into our souls. We then begin to praise God for His mercy and grace toward us. Yes, we used to curse and criticize God with our tongues. But now we want to dedicate our tongue to God’s praise. Indeed, even if we had a thousand tongues, it would be insufficient for praising God. We can never wear out our tongues by praising God. Indeed, praising God is the way to a healthy and muscular tongue.

But we don’t stop there. We also want to praise people. Instead of dedicating ourselves to tearing people down, we now want to build people up. We want to encourage and affirm. We want to highlight the good.

What will a praising tongue produce? It will unite rather than divide.

A Healing Tongue Unites

A healthy tongue unites us to God and to others. No longer divided from God, we commune with Him and enjoy His presence.

As we draw close to Him and submit to His Spirit, we draw close to others also. We no longer want to isolate people with our hate-filled tongues, but instead we seek to bring them together. We hate the gossip that gashes, the pride that puts down, and the deceit that devastates. We want to build people up and rebuild the broken down. We turn from bullying to defending the bullied. We stand with and for the oppressed, joining in solidarity and sympathy.

But is unity the only aim? No, we must never prize unity so much that we sacrifice truth-telling.

A Healing Tongue Is Truthful

A truth-speaking tongue begins with truth-hearing ears. We listen to what God’s Word says about sin and we speak it to others who need to hear it. We don’t encourage people in their sin, no matter how much easier it might make our lives and their lives in the short term. Such deadly tongues murder souls. We will not commit such capital crimes. We will speak the truth in love no matter the cost, because we aim for long-term gain.

Christ’s Healing Tongue

We cannot hear Proverbs 15:4 without thinking of the devil’s tongue. There is no more perverse voice in the universe. He uses silence, criticism, bullying, and flattery to damage and destroy.

On the other hand, we also think about Christ’s tongue. There is no more gentle, soothing, healthy, or healing tongue in the universe. He speaks to the frozen, praises the bruised, unites the isolated, and tells truth to the deceived like no one before or since. Hear His life-giving tongue to receive life—and then communicate its truth to others.

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