No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8)

I WAS MESMERIZED by the colorful frogs on display at the zoo during our family’s visit. Most were only half the size of my little finger, yet placards warned they were poisonous enough to kill an adult human. It’s hard to believe something so tiny and so beautiful can also be so lethal.

In the wild, frogs’ bold colors warn would-be predators to keep their distance. James might observe that our tongues can have that same effect on would-be friends.

When people share their secrets and personal insecurities with us, we should hold them in sacred trust. Yet so often we violate that trust in the heat of an argument by bringing those things to light and using them against our opponents. In such moments, our tongues can be lethally poisonous. Small doses of treachery stop relationships dead in their tracks.

Fortunately, our tongues have something else in common with poisonous frogs. They become less toxic when fed a new diet in captivity.

When our thoughts are held captive for Christ’s sake (2 Cor. 10:5), we begin to see others the way Jesus sees us: broken, but redeemed for glory. This healthier “thought diet” lets us approach relationship conflict with greater humility and a kinder vocabulary. It detoxifies our tongues so that even in the middle of a bitter disagreement, the words we speak are tempered with grace.

Write a note of appreciation to someone you’ve recently argued with.

Johnathan Kana lives with his wife and two children in rural central Texas. When he’s not writing, he enjoys playing piano and composing music.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.