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CAN CHRISTIANS BE CANNIBALS?

Whitson Seaman echoed a great Bible truth when he said, "Words can be daggers plunged into the soul, and their wounds can leave scars for life.  " How many people are stinging today because they have been on the receiving end of cutting words?  Long ago the author of the biblical book of Proverbs observed the enormous potential of the tongue for good or ill:

*12:18- "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health."

*15-.4- 'A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit."

*18:21- 'Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." Psalm 52:2 dramatically describes the evil man as follows- 'Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.' A "sharp tongue" can emotionally cut others to shreds.  James 3 uses graphic words to describe the hurt and pain the untamed tongue can cause by comparing it to a fire that finds its source in hell (verse 6), an unruly evil, full of deadly poison (verse 8), and as an instrument that can be used to curse of bless (verses 9, 10).  No wonder the psalmist prays in Psalms 141:3, 'Set a guard, 0 LORE), over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.' A good prayer to frequently pray since Jesus taught that the very words we speak will someday confront us at the judgment- "'I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned' (Matthew 12:36-37).

Galatians 5:15 warns that we can be guilty of practicing a kind of verbal cannibalism in the way we speak to and about one another- 'But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" What a grotesque picture- Christians verbally biting and chewing on each other like animals seeking to devour each other!  The context reveals the only sure remedy for such cannibalism'. . through love serve one another ... love your neighbor as yourself ... walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:13, 14,16).  The next time you are tempted to "chew someone out," it might help to remember that a problem with our tongues is symptomatic of a deeper problem with our hearts.  We are not loving our neighbor and we are not walking in the Spirit when we are biting on others.  Christians cannot be cannibals.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ