Do you have an unruly tongue? Are you one of those people that you feel free to voice your opinion in any way you choose or speak to someone in a demeaning manner. Do you use your mouth to speak vulgar things and use words that are unkind or offensive, gossiping? Maybe you use your words as weapons to hurt another. Do you use your tongue to manipulate, false teaching, bragging, complaining? There are many ways we can use our words, but if you use your words in any of these ways or worse, then I would say you need to surrender your tongue to the Lord.
Psalm 15:1-4 “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? 2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man, 4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath, even when it hurts, 5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against an innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”
We as believers need to set the standard, we should not sound like the world. Our responses to others should be coated in truth and love. As a believer, we should be harnessing our tongues. We should not be using our words to hurt another. Words are powerful, they can bring life or death. Most times not in a literal sense, but a spiritual sense. Our words can build up or tear down. And how we use our words reflect our relationship with the Lord. There are a lot of things that should distinguish us from the secular unsaved world, but our tongues are certainly a huge part of that.
I have been around people who say they are believers, they go to church and seem to do all the “right” things, they tithe, etc., but their mouths are perverse, they speak the Lord’s name in vain without batting an eye, they gossip about people and those who are supposedly friends. They spew filthy words in conversation. Their words are harsh and coarse, and I can tell you it diminishes them in my eyes. They are willing to surrender so much of their lives, yet their tongue is the one thing they do not see needs to be tamed.
Scripture tells us that God wants even our conversations to be pleasing to him. It matters what we say! None of us are perfect. I am not perfect, (surprise 🙂 but we do need to strive to not only live right but talk right. We read these words in James 3:3-8 “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, 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. 6 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 life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
What we say, what we don’t say and how we say it all is important. There is so much power inside your mouth! James compares the hurt and damage our tongues can do to a raging fire. It consumes and destroys all that is in its path. Our adversary the devil uses our tongues to inflict injury quickly and painfully. All too often people carry unseen wounds and scars that have been inflicted by an unruly tongue. Our words cannot be taken back, once they leave our mouth the damage is done. It is so hard to undo the damage done by a cruel word. If no human can control their tongue, why do we try and how can we gain success (most of the time)? We will never get it perfect, only Jesus spoke perfectly and loved the same, but we can make the effort to lay down our right to say whatever. We can surrender daily our tongue, laying it on the altar of prayer. We can choose carefully those things we say and how we say them, we can think first and speak second.
If we take the time to fuel up with God’s word and hide it in our hearts, it goes a long way in controlling what we say. If we pause before we speak and think of how our words may land on the ears of the hearer, just maybe we will be kinder and not say the next thing. Or possibly think of a time when we have been deeply wounded by words that came at us like a fireball. We need to learn to fight the fire of our tongues and surrender our need and right to go around setting new fires.
We have a powerful ally in the fight of the tongue and that is the Holy Spirit. If we ask for his help you can rest assure He will help. The Holy Spirit can remind us even in the heat of the moment we need to tread lightly, speak softly and gently. And if we have been guilty of using our tongue in a way that has harmed and hurt, the Holy Spirit can help us right that wrong, heal the other person and change the way we speak, fight, quarrel and answer.
How is it that our tongues can both say pleasing things and terrible things? So often we are told, and it is true, that we may be the only Bible some will read, well, I say we may be the only Bible some may listen to. Let that steep for a moment in your mind and heart. If my words were the words that could lead someone to Jesus, wouldn’t I want to control what comes out and how it comes out?
The only way to make genuine progress in this war of our tongues is to pray for help. To ask God to give you the right words at the right time, and to teach you when to speak and when to be silent. I am a work in progress. I try very hard to not say anything that will wound a spirit and diminish someone. I try to build up and not tear down. And when I get angry, I try to think first and speak second, to remember I have the power to inflict hurt or to keep peace and love. I have been deeply wounded by careless words, and I can tell you it is not fun, and it can take years to recover.
So, today I challenge you to surrender your tongue on the altar of God. To ask him to put the right words and attitude in your speech, and to help you to use your words to heal and not divide. If we ask, he answers. Remember that others are listening and what we say does hurt our witness and testimony. It will also hinder our prayers.
You may not win all the time, but how about most of the time?