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The power of the tongue

By Father Mark Pfeiffer
Mother of Sorrows/St. Mary’s Catholic Church

The Pacific northwest has a number of “dormant” volcanoes inside the mountain range. I can remember Mount St. Helen’s erupting about 30 years ago. The entire mountain-top blew off! A friend said if Mount Rainier erupts, Seattle will be gone, covered with volcanic lava.
The message of Proverbs 12:18 speaks, “Reckless words pierce as a sword.” This means the words penetrate all the way into our soul. All this makes us consider how words delivered under anger have a way of delivering a much greater wound than we wish to present. Our heated outbursts have the capacity to overdo it, leaving a life-long scar.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” It is amazing we have a capacity to build people up through words of reinforcement and affirmation, encouragement. All at the same time we may inflict people, bowling them over with words designed to cut their legs out from under them.
I think we have all seen both experiences. It is noticeable, as we grow angry, the uproar has similarities with a volcano blast. We erupt, we spew lava, and we often blow away a piece of the other person before our eyes. Every one of us carry around a soul pierced through by the slings and arrows of a fit of anger hurled our way. We suffer the pain, the anguish. The pain can take us a long time to overcome. People may have gone on to another chapter of life, we have a lingering remembrance. These are the volcano scars.
So why do we have these out-of-control outbursts, especially with the ones we love the most? The Bible compliments highly the person living under control. Proverbs 16:32 “Better a patient man who controls his temper, than a man conquering a city.” This implies a true conviction is evident inside the one who masters his emotions. You have more dominance than one who conquers a city.
If we have a deep seated desire to master our own anger, because we don’t want to afflict those in our family or community, we have steps to make.
First of all, see our problem, place it over to the Lord confessing. Confess our reckless words as the sin we hold truly is detrimental to ourselves and those about us. Present this sin to Jesus at the Cross. Ask the Savior to accept our sin, and help us to get over this side of ourselves. Confess our mistakes as well to victims of our anger.
Secondly, do not allow the pressures inside ourselves to build to such a dangerous level. Deal with the issues right away. Attempt to handle the issue with positive action. Speak to people you confide in with sharing what is going on inside you. Build a healthy dialogue with your spouse, co-workers and all so you talk things out as they surface.
All these signs give evidence we are all sinners. We are sinners needing the merciful Savior, all so we may cope with all the pressures placing demands upon us. We grow wiser, more experienced, seeing our relationships are far more important to us than driving our point across. We cherish the people inside our lives, not desiring to wound them with our blowups.
Yes, the tongue has the power of life, along with the power of death. We have seen the scars a blowup may leave. Isn’t it far better we gain control, all with the help of our Savior’s saving grace?