Our words are powerful. In recent years, I have tried to be conscience of how I use my words. Do I use them to encourage and edify? Or do I use them to slander? My mother used to say, “If you don’t have something good to say about somebody, then don’t say anything at all.” I have tried to take that advice to heart when dealing with people.
Likewise, I am pretty observant. I know one of the major causes of division in the church among women is gossip. Too often, women yield to the temptation to gossip or slander others in an effort to feel better about ourselves. This is often a result of our own insecurities and has very little to do with the person we yearn to talk about. That’s why, when tempted to open my mouth, I first examine myself.
What contributions have I made to the problem? Could my perspective be off base or without merit? What is going on in my heart pertaining to the other person? Is there anger, bitterness, resentment, covetousness, jealousy? If so, these are all sinful thoughts that I need to confess before the Lord and maybe to that person if I have sinned in action in response to my sinful thoughts.
There are a number of scriptures that warn against the undisciplined use of our tongue. We should not use our tongues to lie or dishonor others.
The book of James reads:
The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.
It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire,
And is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being
tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.
It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men,
who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise
and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
James 3: 5- 10
If no man can tame the tongue, how is it that the tongue can be tamed? I am coming to understand that one response to this question is through silence, solitude, and prayer.
Silence: The Bible reveals that the more words we use, the more tempted we are to sin with them. Therefore, we should choose our words carefully. It is better to listen in silence than blabber and provide a false comfort to ourselves or prove ourselves foolish.
Solitude: Solitude provides the needed opportunity to nurture our relationship with the Lord. Like any other relationship, we cannot grow our relationship with the Lord if we don’t spend time with him. Too often, our lives are filled with noise of the work place, care giving, technology, and other responsibilities and resources that serve as distractions and cause impulsive (and often sinful) reactions. We simply respond without thinking about the consequences of our words. In haste, we spew venom. Solitude transforms us into Christ’s likeness so that we can respond to others with grace and humility.
Prayer: Spiritual growth means a process of putting off our old sinful natures and putting on the very image of Christ Jesus. In prayer, we can confess our sins and impart blessings into our lives and the lives of others by agreeing with the promises found in God’s Word. Prayer changes our speech.
Practicing these disciplines is quite helpful to the taming of my tongue. I certainly do not rise to every occasion, but silence, solitude, and prayer help me to:
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19b-20).”
What are some others ways that our tongue can be tamed? How do you know when to speak and when to be silent?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011
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