Part of the Matthew 19:14 Project.
Not everyone should become a bible teacher or church leader. If you are teaching other people how to understand God’s word, God watches you carefully and expects you to be totally truthful and obedient. But everybody makes mistakes; nobody is perfect. Perfect people can control their whole bodies and never mess anything up or say the wrong thing. Nobody can be like that!
Have you ever ridden a horse? When we ride horses, we put a small piece of rope in their mouths – called a bit – and that small bit can help us steer an animal that is even bigger than we are. Or have you ever looked closely at a huge ship? Even though they are gigantic and strong winds can blow on the water, the captain’s wheel is connected to a tiny object that looks like a desk fan – that’s called a rudder – and that steers the whole boat. Just like the horse’s bit and the ship’s rudder, our tongues are a small part of our bodies, but they sure are powerful! It’s not powerful because it is a big, huge muscle, but because what we say using our tongues makes a huge difference! You know, a whole forest can burn down in a fire by one small spark. The tongue is like fire, too. Just by what you say, you can tear other people down, hurting their feelings or changing what people think of them by stories you spread, or even tear yourself down, little by little until you’ve ruined everything, just like the fire does.
You know what’s funny? People are so smart. We can train dogs and horses and lions and whales and snakes and alligators and parrots and hawks until they are sweet and gentle like pets, but no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to train our tongues to always say the right thing. They get us into so much trouble! They never seem to stop hurting people – they are like poison.
We use our tongues to say everything. Sure, we praise God and say nice things to people one second, and then we curse or say terrible things about people the next second. Out of the same mouth comes good and evil! It shouldn’t be like this! Think about water – either you have salt water in the ocean or fresh water in the lake. You don’t have both in the same body of water! Or think about an apple tree or a peach tree. Apples don’t grow on peach trees and peaches don’t grow on apple trees. And you won’t suddenly see salt water coming into a lake! In other words, watch what you say! You can’t be fresh water and salt water. And you can’t be an apple tree and grow peaches. So pick! And I’ll tell you which one to pick: say kind things to other people and about other people!
There are two kinds of wisdom – that is, being able to think through things and understand them well. Some people show their wisdom through being jealous – feeling like they want something that other people have, and they want to be really good at stuff so that people look at them and like them. They are sneaky and sly. Other people show their wisdom by doing good things and giving God credit, because they understand how to make a good choice and not make it all about themselves. The first kind of wisdom, where you understand how to get what you want from other people so that they will notice you and like you – that kind is not from God. It is from the devil. When people want things just for themselves, that’s where the world gets broken and all messed up. But the second kind of wisdom, where you do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do and to bring God credit for the good stuff – that kind of wisdom is from heaven. It is the right kind of wisdom – clean, it thinks of other people as more important than yourself, it allows other people to be leaders, it doesn’t pick favorites, it always forgives, and it is real – you really mean what you say when you have this kind of wisdom. People who have wisdom like this create peace all around them. They are like peach trees growing the most juicy, delicious peaches. They are like the tiny rudder on the huge ship steering it exactly in the right direction. They are like the cleanest lake water with no salt. Which one will you choose?