Take It Back

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. – James 3:5b-6.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45.

Do you remember when you were a child? Sometimes you said some things that another boy or girl didn’t like and what did they say? Often it was “Take it back!” Meaning you didn’t really mean it when you said those mean words. There are so many words that I wish I could take back.

The first time I received corporal punishment (licks) at school had to do with the words I said. A boy named Troy Potts on my bus was fighting with a friend and because I was setting right next to them I was drawn into it all and called Troy a name.

I was in the fifth grade at the time. Soon after we arrived at school, we were called into the superintendent’s office. This was a frightening thing because I had never even been into the high school before much less the superintendent’s office. Troy told the superintendent that the other boy hit him and that I had called him a name. It was all true and the punishment was rapidly administered. According to the superintendent, the name-calling was just as bad as the hitting and I was the beneficiary of three hard licks from a wooden paddle with holes drilled in it.

I really don’t know what caused me to say the words and I did apologize to Troy but there was no way to undo the damage and take back what I had said. Not only was the name calling just as bad as the hitting but over the years I have come to think that it may have actually been worse (Troy, if you happen to read this once again I would like to say that I am truly sorry for saying what I did.). Once those words were said, there was no way to ever take them back.

Words that have been said to me in anger, hate, or just meanness have been remembered much longer and in more detail than any physical pain I‘ve experienced. In fact just thinking about some of those words and situations can once again bring pain. Of course, when it happens I take them to the Lord and ask Him to take captive those thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5) which relieves the pain and brings peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

The tongue is a burning fire and piercing sword (Proverbs 12:18) at times and it will never be completely controlled. However, we can control what we put into our hearts. Instead of anger, violence, and evil we can instead put into our lives the list given to us by the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” Store up these things into your heart and out of the overflow of your heart will flow these same things in your speech. Try it – it works!

(Taking control of your speech.)

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