By Pastor Ron Buxton
During World War II, the United States government needed to raise money for the war efforts. In order to do that, they began to sell “war bonds”. These were sold to the general public, and among most citizens they were successful. However, in some more remote parts of the country that was not the case. You see, where newspapers and radio transmissions were non-existent, so wasn’t the awareness of the Second World War. Thus, there was a wide spread ignorance among some of the population regarding the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, the heroic leadership of Winston Churchill, and the determined response of Franklin Roosevelt.
This was most evident when a bond salesperson traveled to a rural community. He approached a farmer who was out in his barnyard feeding his pigs. And as the salesman spoke, he became more and more agitated by the indifference of the farmer.
“Wouldn’t you like to help out by buying war bonds?”, he asked.
“I suppose not”, replied the apathetic farmer.
The salesman continued, “But wouldn’t you like to join the defense effort with Mr. Roosevelt?”
“Nope. I reckon not”, returned the farmer with a sigh.
The salesman raised his voice, “But aren’t you even outraged over what they did to Pearl Harbor?”
Again, the farmer replied, “Not in the least bit.”
Aghast, the salesman threw up his hands and uttered, “Then I guess that you don’t want to be on the side of Churchill, and that you don’t want any bonds?”
“Absolutely not!”, said the farmer as he rolled his eyes.
Extremely frustrated, the salesman stormed off the farmer’s property. And just then, that farmer’s wife approached her husband. From a distance, she had noticed the reaction of the visiting salesman, and was concerned about what they possibly could have been talking about.
“What on earth were you two talking about?”, inquired his wife.
The farmer looked at her, shook his head, and replied, “That pushy city-slicker was telling me that a guy named Roosevelt got a girl named Pearl Harbor in trouble over on the side of some church hill, and that he insisted that I go to his bond!”
Believe it or not, that’s how most damaging gossip arises. The communication is either not clear, or not called for, and the results can be disastrous. Only a person who is redeemed by Christ has any hope. The Apostle James spent an entire chapter of his epistle outlining how disastrous, dangerous, and deadly the human tongue can be. For that reason, I call our tongue “three inches of dynamite located behind our teeth”. And man, can those “oral explosions” really cause some damage! Some of that damage, unfortunately, never gets repaired. And regretfully, even some of that damage leaves mortal wounds on the souls of its victims beyond the grave.
When the author of Proverbs stated, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”, he wasn’t just giving a memorable metaphor. He really meant it. The tongue is the only tool or weapon that grows sharper with constant use. That being said, how many folks have been “carved up” by unkind and outright vicious words? Whether your words explode in bursts of slander, or slice with criticism, it is our responsibility to own up to the damage. After all, Jesus did warn us that our own words would either commend or condemn us before His throne of judgement.
The good news is that the “dynamite” can be utilized for positive purposes. Why not unleash some “oral explosions” of praise to the only One who can liberate us from our tongue’s damaging effects? You see, in the final analysis, “By our words we shall be justified, or by our words we shall be condemned”. That’s the words of Jesus. Be careful with those three inches of dynamite!”