I have a home studio where I regularly do video and audio recording. Recently, however, I realized that my recordings had a significant amount of reverberation in them (i.e., echo). I tried several techniques to remove the "reverb," but nothing seemed to work. So, I had to take the plunge and purchase special acoustic panels to hang on my studio walls. These panels reduce reverb by absorbing sound and thus limiting the amount of echo. Fortunately, they have done their job well, and my room is now much cleaner.
I remember vividly the day I hung the acoustic panels up and realized the reverb was significantly muted. I was amazed that a simple acoustic treatment could make such an immediate and profound difference in the sound quality of the room. Sure, the acoustic panels were not cheap, but they worked! And, let's face it, we'll pay for something that works!
Since that day, however, I have been burdened with a semi-related and quite convicting thought: What if I applied some simple acoustic treatments to my personal speech life as well? What if I adjusted the words and attitudes I give off to the world in such a way that I better honor Christ and more positively influence those around me? I don't make a habit of being mean, rude, or snarky with people, but I do on occasion let my tongue get the better of me. What if I could absorb those words and attitudes before they even take form?
Proverbs 15:4 says, "The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." (NIV). The words we say and the attitudes we convey matter. When I pipe off to one of my children or a co-worker with caustic words or a sour attitude, I crush his/her spirit. Now, that's a humbling thought, especially for someone like me who doesn't desire to hurt anyone! On the other hand, when I weigh my speech carefully and seek to encourage and build others up--that is, when I seek to edify with my words and attitudes--then I can play a part with God in giving life to someone else.
What do your words sound like? How do your attitudes affect others? Whether we like it or not, a loose tongue is destined to reverberate the dissonant echoes of our wicked hearts. However, it doesn't have to be this way! Some simple acoustic treatments like grace, empathy, and compassion can go a long way in absorbing what might otherwise kill the tree of life.