Mark Cyr: Tongue has the power to either help or encourage
I have just a few memories of my early childhood that are clear to me. I can remember when I was a young toddler and clearly remember my grandma giving me a bath in the kitchen sink at her home.
I can remember when I got my first dog, Curly; I was probably 4 and she was such a cute little black puppy. But the memory that I look back at most is one of my first-grade teacher.
When I was in first grade, I would draw on the desk a lot. One day the girl who sat in front of me turned around and drew on my desk. The next thing you know, my teacher walked up and saw all the pencil marks on my desk. She had had enough that day and picked me up by the arms and shook me, saying, “You’ll never learn!” This one short statement changed my academic career for the next 20-plus years. I went through grade school, junior high and high school and chose my first career path thinking I was not as capable of learning as others.
When I was about 30, I felt God calling me into ministry and knew I needed to go to school to do that. When I went to college I received an entrance exam and did not know what to expect. When I scored in the 92nd percentile of the nation I was quite surprised, but even with that and my college work, which was above average, I still have in me a voice that says I am less capable of learning than others.
The teacher who said this to me had no idea what kind of impact this would have on my life. God has worked in me and has quieted this voice and the many others that have spoken lies to me. I am no longer controlled by the untruthful tongues of the past, but by the truth of my God who tells me “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
The Bible teaches us that the tongue is like a small spark that sets a forest on fire (James 3:5-6). It doesn’t seem like much, but look at the damage it can do. How many of us can remember a time when we used our tongues to discourage or hurt someone? I don’t believe my first-grade teacher had any idea how her words would influence me. We all have done it, said something without thinking, but that can change. The tongue is just as capable of encouragement as it is of discouragement. Let’s make a commitment to use this powerful muscle we all have to encourage one another. And, if you have negative voices from the past in your head, let the Holy Spirit silence them and remember that if God is for you (and He is), nothing can stand against you (Romans 8:31).
Lt. Mark Cyr is the pastor of The Salvation Army in Carson City.