Summary: God wants to give us a makeover with a pierced tongue, a tongue that God has changed so that it conforms to his pattern of beauty and purpose.
Some of you probably grew up with beef tongue as a part of your menu. My mother sometimes served it boiled or stewed and sometimes pickled.
I read about a certain master who ordered his servant to buy the best food he could get to provide for a meal for the entertainment of his friends. The servant bought only tongues which the cook prepared. Course after course was served, each consisting of tongue. The master angrily demanded of the servant, “Did I not order you to buy the best meat the market had?” The servant answered, “Have I not obeyed your orders?” “Is there anything better than tongue? Is not the tongue the bond of civil society, the organ of truth and reason, and the instrument of praise and adoration of God?” The master ordered him to go to the market the next day to buy the worst thing he could find. He purchased more tongues, which the cook was ordered to serve as before. “What! Tongues again?” asked the master. “Most certainly,” the servant said. “The tongue is surely the worst thing in the world. It is the instrument of all strife and contention, the inventor of lawsuits, and source of division and wars. It is the organ of error, of lies, of slander and blasphemies.” (Be ye doers of the Word. William G. Detweiler.)
The story is probably a fable, but it makes a point about the double use of our tongues. As we heard earlier from the book of James, we use the tongue to “bless the Lord and Father” and we use it to “curse those who are made in the likeness of God.” And James says, “My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.”
Extreme Makeover Series. We are in the middle of a series of messages about extreme makeovers based on the book of James. As you know, some people undergo surgery of various kinds to change the shape of their faces, the size of their bodies, and their general appearance. The book of James introduces us to the need for an extreme makeover of some parts of our anatomy, not physically, but spiritually. There are certain characteristics God wants us to have.
• We learned from Ch. 1 that God wants to give us a makeover with big ears so we can grow in our knowledge of God, so we can build relationships and get along with each other, so we can hear what God has to say to us. So you might ask yourself if you have allowed God to do that makeover, to give you big ears.
• Last week we learned from Chapter 2 that God wants to give us a makeover with dirty hands, not nicely manicured hands with soft skin, but hands that work, hands willing to help people in need, hands ready to get dirty, hands that serve as a practical expression of our faith. Let me ask you what condition your hands are in. Do you get your hands dirty for God?
• Today we learn from Chapter 3 that God wants to give us a makeover with a pierced tongue, a tongue that God has changed so that it conforms to his pattern of beauty and purpose.
As you know, pierced tongues have become the rage among some people. I have read descriptions of the procedure and for one brief second I thought about getting my tongue pierced to see what it is like. And young people, here’s why I want to advise you to not think about it even that long.
There are medical reasons not to pierce your tongue. Dentists are noticing worn, cracked, and chipped teeth because of tongue studs. Tongue piercing can also cause speech impediments, breathing problems and infection. Bacteria under the tongue spread quickly and can lead to fatal toxic shock syndrome or blood poisoning.
Now, there are always people who ignore warnings and danger and do the ridiculous. One man, a professional trombonist, asked on his website, “WHY do people pierce their tongue?” “It certainly won’t improve anyone’s trombone playing. We all understand the desire to be "different" or to buck the crowd or to be cool.” (http://www.yeodoug.com/resources/faq/faq_text/pierce.html)
He went on to say that tongue piercing is not like letting your hair grow or painting your nails an unusual color. It has a permanent effect on your body. As a musician, he said, “If you are trying to succeed at the highest level of ANYTHING - if that is truly your aspiration - then you understand that you are in for a life of discipline, sacrifice, self-control.’ Playing your instrument GREAT may mean you don’t do everything everyone else is doing. It may mean you can’t eat that spicy meal before a concert, it might mean you wear a scarf around your face when it’s cold while your friends call you a dork, it might mean getting extra sleep the night before an audition when others go to the movies. Michael Jordan didn’t get to be the greatest basketball player of all time by just hanging around the ’hood with the brothers. No, he busted his butt on the court - and lots of times when nobody was looking.”