BlogsThoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral
The power of the tongue
By Vernon Martin, Life Group and Worship leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
It stung as the woman’s hand slapped my cheek and I was jerked back to reality after being way off somewhere deep in thought.
I was trying hard to remember if I got everything I had come into the shop for. I was only about seven or eight years old.
My mom was waiting outside and had sent me in to get 2L of milk – that much I did remember….but was there something else I was forgetting?!
It was a hot summer’s day in South Africa and I recall feeling of the cool tiles on the soles of my bare feet as I ran through the aisles of the Pick ‘n’ Pay (think Tesco, but less posh!).
When I got it and was ready to pay for it, I didn’t notice that I was in the wrong queue at the till. There was a single non-white queue at the end of the row of tills that was only manned occasionally.
I didn’t deliberately avoid it, I just had a momentary lapse of memory and proceeded to stand in the queue of people nearest to me.
Standing in line I wondered if I’d missed something; was I supposed to get something else? Did I get the right milk? Thinking back I can’t remember exactly what took me so far away in thought. But I was obviously not paying too much attention to my surroundings. I was too far away in my head to see what was coming.
She was only about 18 at most, I would guess. But then again I was never any good at guessing anyone’s age, so who knows?
The thing I do know for sure was that her ring left an imprint on my cheek after her hand landed. ‘Wat kyk jy vir my, jou hotnot!’ (Why are you looking at me, you hotnot) was her exclamation of disgust that caught my attention and just as I realised her vocalisation was directed at me it was already too late; the blow had landed.
I dropped the milk, out of sheer shock! Oh man, did it sting! And as the snot and tears started to flow I clutched my cheek and ran to my mom who had started walking down the road already.
A ‘hotnot’ is a derogatory term for a brown skinned person in South Africa. It’s a shortened form of ‘Hottentot’ and was the name given to the indigenous people along the coast who encountered the first Dutch settlers in South Africa in the 17th century. It’s a horrible term. And even at seven or eight years old you knew it meant you were unwelcome and seen as somehow dirty or unworthy; a third or lesser class citizen.
Why am I telling you this story from way back?
I have been reminded about it recently a few times and have ended up thinking about it, and some aspect of it, again and again; the importance of my speech.
Through the sermons, the blogs, the testimonies of how God has been speaking to us, I have also been reminded of my own experiences. We all go through experiences in life that has the potential to leave a mark on us – either for a short time, or a long time.
Dave preached a message on the power of the tongue a few weeks back and mentioned that well known rhyme, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ and how untrue that phrase is!
Words have the potential to hurt us quite severely sometimes. As children of God, we have a great responsibility to watch what we say to one another.
The wonderful thing is that when we master our mouths; or tame our tongues, we show that we belong to Him. Our speech becomes the evidence of our maturity in Christ.
And at times I am acutely aware of falling short so very easily when it comes to this.
We’re just about to come to the end of a very challenging series of sermons in the short book of James. So much was James’ passion on living in such a way as to attain the ‘crown of life’ that he specifically mentioned the tongue 6 times within the first three chapters of the letter that is the book of James!
I’m challenged – and I challenge you – let’s watch and listen and read the messages and think about this very important issue some more even after we’re finished on our sojourn through the book.
Praise God, His Grace is powerful and effective to help us in our speech! And whether we have been hurt by words spoken to us or we have hurt others by the words we have spoken to them, the grace of God can come and heal and restore and forgive us of those marks – scars – that words leave on us.
Vernon Martin with his wife Yvonne
Lucas, Asher, Zach and Josh on why they made the decision to be baptised at Jubilee on Sunday. Not to be missed!
Julie on how she struggles with waiting – but how she has got closer to God while learning to wait.
Chris on knowing the mind of God by growing in His spirit and loving others as He loves us.
Danielle reflects on Dan Morrice’s book Finding the Peacemakers and how we can be the peacemakers in our lives.
Andrew Greenhalgh on relying on God completely and how it completely changed his life.
Michael O’Brien on working for God as a Christian businessman, doing things His way – not the world’s way
Becca Johnson on the meaning of Jesus’ name and the importance of names to God. What does your name mean?
Vernon Martin on worship: Why we should be praying for the gospel to naturally flow from our lips and our actions.
Chantal Robertson on doing what we can to protect our planet without feeling condemned that we’re not doing enough.
Julie Greenhalgh on trusting in the Lord, and being transformed from someone who struggled to make a decision to someone who knew who to ask every time there was one to be made!
Guest blogger Jonathan Kent on the trials and tribulations of the storms we endure – and how we were built for storms!
Andrew Greenhalgh on challenging long-held beliefs and seeing ourselves the way God sees us.
Dave Frodsham on being blessed and knowing God is your comfort and joy and you have real people who care around you.
Nicki Frodsham on running the race with God with endurance – and encouraging others to keep the faith, too.
Dawne Cooper on going through trials, and trusting in God in the darkest times.
Chantal Robertson on being half-French and remembering that God doesn’t make mistakes.
Andrew Greenhalgh on the challenges of living in the world but not taking on its values as our own.
Helen, who admits she doesn’t like blogs, on why it might not be important how you listen to God – but that it is important that you do.
Andrew Greenhalgh on gifts, encouragement and using what God has blessed us with to help others.
Julie Greenhalgh on putting God in the driving seat of our lives – instead of insisting on staying behind the wheel ourselves!
Danielle says thank you to all the people who played a part in her walk with God.