Thursday, October 05, 2006
My Unstable Dog
In James 3:8, James tells us that our tongues are defiant. Most every creature known to man has been tamed by man. Yet, man is unable to tame his own tongue. Why? James says that it is because our tongue is “restless.” This is a word that means “unstable.” It was a word used to describe a wild animal resisting temptation. That is our tongue. It does not want to be controlled. It does not want to be mastered.
I have a “restless” and “unstable” dog. She is a Jack Russell Terrier named “Sandi.” She really is a good dog and she is usually very obedient, but she is still “unstable.” She is also very finicky. Sandi loves to lie on the chair with me when I sit down to watch television. Here is where her “unstableness” is seen. When Sandi lies on the chair with me, she does not want to be on my lap. She wants to be on the chair. However, it has to be the part of the chair on my left side. She will not lay on the right side. No way! If I move all the way over to the left in my chair, Sandi will put her paws on my chest and stick her nose right up against mine and hold that position until I scoot over so that she can lay on my left side. What a peculiar dog.
But the characteristic of being “unstable” continues. While Sandi is lying on the chair with me, she does not want to be petted. If I reach down and began to stroke her, Sandi will do one of two things. Sometimes she will get down, wait a few minutes, and then get back up as her way of communicating to me not to touch her. Other times she will just let out a low but firm growl to communicate that she wants me to take my hand off of her. She is “unstable.”
She is like that with people…all people. Sometimes she will show you all kinds of attention and seem like she is your new best friend. Other times she will simply growl at you. One minute you can be petting her and feeling her love and then, before you can notice a change of attitude coming, she will growl and snap at you, possibly even catching your finger. When people come to our house we have to warn them to be careful with Sandi. “Why? Is she mean?” That’s just it…we don’t know from one minute to the next if she will be mean or not. She’s “unstable.” Whenever Brenda Rutt comes over to our house, Sandi pees. I don’t know what that’s all about. She’s just “unstable” (Sandi that is…not Brenda).
So is the case with our tongues. Just when we think we have it figured it out. Just when we think it is well under our control. Just when we think we have our tongues licked (no pun intended), it snaps. Suddenly words come out of our mouth that are very negative, hateful and destructive. We didn’t mean to say it. We can hardly believe the words came out, but they did. You know why? Your tongue is “restless.” It’s “unstable.” It resists being tamed. It is defiant. James goes on to say it is a “deadly poison.” Its venom is worse than that of a poisonous snake. A snake’s bite can only destroy your body. Your tongue’s ability to harm and kill goes far deeper. It can destroy your marriage. It can destroy your family. It can destroy your church. It can destroy your life.