My Grandmother Whyatt who died and went to her reward 16 years ago today used to say with some frequency, "A still tongue makes a wise head!" According to EnglishClub.com this expression is reflective of the truth that "someone who does not talk much, but listens to other people, probably has experience, knowledge and good judgement." Well that was my Nan – entirely! She was a very quiet person, she weighed her words and when she spoke them they were well thought out and well placed. Her words were loving words and encouraging words. She had a great command of her tongue. Nan was a great woman of faith and I believe that when she would say, "a still tongue makes a wise head," she was summing up a faith-filled notion that God wants us to choose our words, think about how they impact others and know what we are talking about before we spew all over.
This is what the book of James, chapter 3, has to say about the tongue:
"If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue–a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing."
I am not a man best described as quiet. I often have too many words. That left me praying and reflecting this morning on how I am called to respond as a Chritian on this journey. I reflected on my Nan’s love for others and realize that she choose her words carefully so as not to hurt those she loved, but to encourage them. That led me to reading James this morning as a reminder to myself to be guided in my speech. At this time of year we find ourselves often being impatient with others as we rush to keep up with the demands that we and others place on us for Christmas. The next couple of days will be hectic for many of us. My prayer is that we be reminded to speak to others in love and with compassion. The Incarnate Christ that we celebrate in Christmas is best found when we act in love towards others – As surley as Mary gave birth to Jesus, we give birth to Jesus as well when we show love and compassion toward one another.