Control of the tongue

Saint James, in his short letter, mentions that someone who can control his tongue is a perfect person.

He says even a big ship is controlled by the rudder to move this way or that; a wild horse tamed is also controlled by the bit that is put in its mouth. In the same way our lives are often controlled by judicious use of the tongue.

With the tongue, we praise God but with the same tongue we also destroy
the reputation of our neighbour and make his life miserable.

It also happens that some individuals even commit suicide because they cannot anymore bear the taunts of others.

Of course, we could console ourselves by saying we are only criticising justly and for the good of the person concerned.

It could be so, but at the same time, I feel that one should weigh well the usefulness, or otherwise the uselessness of one’s intervention by harsh words, which could wound or aggravate the already sore wound and fail to heal easily.

In this case, when we discover the practically certain uselessness of it, would it not be more prudent to keep quiet and let time take its course and the person may be changed for the better? It is also true that we have greater chance of getting our words accepted when it is not clothed in harshness but appeal to the good sense of the people concerned.

This is indeed the Gandhian technique and Gandhian belief that there is a good side in every human being and the appeal is made precisely to this good side.

Further, it should be noted that one should not react when either one or the other is angry for some reason or other   be it justified or unjustified.

 It is better to wait when tempers have cooled and we are in a better frame of mind. Then what we want could have the good effect we so earnestly desire.

The Psalmist in Psalm 39 verse 1-3 says: “I said, ‘I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will bridle my mouth, so long as the wicked are in my presence. I was dumb and silent, I held my peace to no avail; my distress grew worse, my heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned…”

So, we see how hard it is to keep silent on such occasions but it is much better than to say words that may hurt.

Allow God to bring about justice in his own time. It is also possible, after the occasion has gone by and tempers are a little more even, to introduce the topic once again and find the right answer in quiet dialogue.

Of course, we all need patience. Should we not try to imitate the great patience of God with us humans? He does not destroy the wicked or sinners immediately; there is time and God waits in patience for the person to be changed, perhaps by other circumstances or situations, even unconnected with what is bothering.

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