I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.”
(Psalm 39:1, NLT)
Do you struggle with an untamed tongue? Do you ever say things and instantly regret them? Does your tongue sometimes run wild and you really wish you could stick your foot in your mouth, then at least your tongue stops wagging?
Don’t feel alone.
James tells us in his letter, “Men have trained, or can train, every kind of animal or bird that lives and every kind of reptile and fish, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is always ready to pour out its deadly poison. (James 3:7-8, TLB)
Harsh words, but sometimes, even harsher are the words that come out of our mouths. Think about the last time you said something thoughtlessly or carelessly. What did it result in? Hurt? Anger? Frustration?
The Bible tells us it definitely could.
Proverbs 10:14 “A wise man holds his tongue. Only a fool blurts out everything he knows; that only leads to sorrow and trouble.”
Proverbs 11:12 “To quarrel with a neighbor is foolish; a man with good sense holds his tongue.”
Proverbs 13:3 “Self-control means controlling the tongue! A quick retort can ruin everything.”
Although I don’t classify myself as a “talker” and I often do a lot more listening and observing than speaking, I still find myself struggling with the things I manage to say. I’m in the middle of a conversation, and suddenly I realize what I’m saying about someone is gossip. Or instead of edifying the person I’m talking to, I’m actually tearing her down. Or the words I’m saying are negative, rather than filled with praise and thanksgiving.
It’s like my tongue takes over and my brain is too slow to shut it down.
I guess that’s why James also tells us to remember to “be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19, GNT)
So, what can we do instead? As we watch our tongue, as we think about what we say, what should those things be? What should we talk about?
Paul tells us in one of his letters to “Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts.” (Ephesians 5:19, GNT)
And in another letter, he repeats a similar message, to “Teach and instruct one another with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts. Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:16-17, GNT)
If I use these verses as a filter before I speak, maybe I’ll regret less what I say and maybe I will no longer feel the need to stick my foot in my mouth.
Father, many things are impossible for man, like taming my tongue, but You tell me with You, everything is possible. Help me to guard my tongue, to be slow to speak, to think about the words I say, and may everything I speak bring grace to those who hear.
Grace & Peace