Howling is infectious. Our family is well acquainted with this canine reality because through the years we have owned four beagles (or have they owned us?). Our current blessing, Sparrow, may be the best howler of all our hounds, and it takes very little to get her to throw her head back and bay at the moon, the ceiling, or whatever may be up there willing to receive her song.
I must confess that the "very little" that most often motivates Sparrow is her human family. Yes, we love to get Sparrow singing, so to speak. If we howl, she howls. So we howl. We're pretty good at it actually, or at least I think so. If the neighbors can hear our concert - which I hope they can't - I suspect they must think that the Davis family is either harboring a secret kennel of beagles, or that we have gone stark raving mad. It's quite a cacophony of sound, and while I've never really focused on the visual aspect of the experience, it must also be somewhat of a sight to behold. And no, there will be no audio or video on our website forthcoming!
Even more infectious than howling, our capacity for the sound of words powerfully influences others, for good or for ill. "There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health" (Proverbs 12:18). What we say and how we say it fills the air with either life or death, and the challenging and even disturbing truth is that every word we say has this effect. "I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36). "Idle" in this verse means leisurely, or even lazy. That is, we will one day answer for words spoken with no view toward their effect and influence, and while such judgment of believers' utterances will not affect our assured place in Heaven, the matter is nevertheless solemn and very serious. Did our words consistently "infect" our world with the spirit and truth of the Lord Jesus, or with the darkness of the flesh? We will face that question at the judgment seat of Christ.
We must face the question today, and for the rest of our earthly lives. There are few more important issues than what we say and how we say it. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). Our only hope in this matter the same hope we have in every matter. We must trust the Lord Jesus with all our hearts, receiving His forgiveness and cleansing for past failings, and submitting our tongue to Him for safekeeping and enabling to express His life. "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3). Sparrow provides for us a powerful reminder and lesson, and one that we should often consider together for the purpose of remembering that our words will be either graced with life, or laced with death. Indeed, others will "howl" with us, as it were, and may we lead always in the chorus that honors and reflects the Lord Jesus.
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.