There are three things that I envision the tongue to be like:
a fruit tree,
and a sword.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat of its fruit" (Proverbs 18:21). Those who love it will eat of its fruit. I sometimes forget how much weight I put into my words. With this tongue of mine, I give blessings and promises. And with it I spout lies and gossip. When I think about fruit, I think about my parent's backyard. My dad has planted on their little half acre over 30 fruit trees in close proximity (so they do not get tall enough so he needs a ladder to reach the top). One of the few trees that remains from the previous owners is a peach tree. The summer we moved into the house, it produced peaches the size of softballs by the hundreds. They were big, they were juicy, they were sweet. Such a pleasant offering. But this past summer, the opposite happened. The old gnarled tree got sick. We do not know how or when. We only found out when the peaches came. Slightly larger than the size of a golf ball, they too came by the hundreds. Somewhat disappointed by their small size, I took one off the branches in hopes that it would have enough flesh on it to satisfy. When I brought it into the kitchen to cut it open, I saw that it was riddled with brown spots. Upon opening it, my knife went straight through the pit, finding it rotten to the core.
Are my words like the peaches from the first summer? Do they satisfy and sustain? Or are my words like the sick peaches, ready to bring ill upon those who "eat of them?"
The tongue is like a ship. "...though they are so great and driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very strong rudder wherever the pilot directs" (James 3:4). Such a small part directs the whole of me. With this tongue of mine, I can direct to do good or to do evil, to build up or destroy.
The tongue is like a double edged sword. "There is one whose rash words are like the sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" (Proverbs 12:18). "Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts" (Proverbs 20:30). A sword thrust can only puncture, and punctures do no good to a person. A stroke of a sword is able to scoop out evil, keeping the healthy parts of the body.
Let your words be fruitful and satisfy those who hear. Let your words be a guide to yourself as well as those around you. Let your words be as a skilled swordsman, direct and cleansing. May the words of our mouths be acceptable in His sight.