Beware of the tongue: 3 ways to tame it
Growing up I was always a good student; however, my mouth would get me in trouble. My mother worked at my school, and one day, in the middle of a class change, she came up to me not so happy, asking me why my Spanish teacher had to come into her office. I had no excuse and nowhere to hide. I was talking non-stop in class and my teacher was fed up. Over the years, my mouth has gotten me into some situations that were easily avoidable.
The tongue is such a small member but so powerful. We use it to sing praises, taste food, and speak to our loved ones. On the other hand, it can also be used profanely, to gossip, and to speak ill of those who treat us poorly. As a child, I was afraid of dogs; I remember seeing signs on people’s lawns that said, “beware of dog.” Well, the following passage from James could be summed up as, “beware of the tongue.”
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (3:6).
We all know how the tongue can get us into trouble. Take Peter, for example. He walked with Jesus and even said he would die for Him, but when it came down to it Peter used his tongue to deny that he even knew the Lord. (Matthew 26:69-75)
We all have personal examples of our words or the words of someone close to us causing destruction—whether it be a secret that ruins a relationship or a lie that breaks up a family. But let us not focus on the negatives. Let us work to tame our tongue so that we can truly be pleasing to God. In the classic Disney movie Bambi, there is a famous line said by the character Thumper that we should all heed, “
” There are many derivatives of this quote but the point is all the same: use kind words.
Here are 3 ways to ensure we are using kind words taken directly from the scriptures.
1. Avoid triggers:
Matthew 5:30 says,
“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
If certain people cause you to gossip, don’t hang out with them. If certain high stress situations cause you to curse, stop allowing yourself to get worked up. If certain things on television cause you to speak evil of others, stop watching. We have to be self aware enough to know what causes us to sin, then we have to take it a step further and remove those triggers.
2. Learn to listen
This is a big one when it comes to any type of relationship. My husband and I learned this early in our marriage. I would catch myself preparing my response before the person I was talking to even finished what they were saying. I was ready to attack, ready to defend myself and use my words to win. I have since learned to listen and realize that I do not have to respond right away. As careful as we are with a knife in the kitchen is how careful we should be with our words. Words can cut deep, so we should be wise about what we say. Once we have truly listened, we can formulate a thoughtful response that is clear and not hurtful. Remember the words from Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”
We have a loaded weapon, so we need to be careful.
3. Cleanse your heart:
Proverbs 23:7 says,
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”
Your speech starts in your heart, so if your thoughts are evil your speech will follow. In order to cleanse our hearts we must meditate on things above. (Colossians 3:2). Philippians 4:8 says,
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
If we want our speech to change, our heart must first change. We have to think on good things—“good vibes only” as people say today. Do not allow yourself to go down a dark rabbit hole of bad thoughts. We cleanse our speech by cleansing our mind.
Our speech should reflect love, not hate. After all, Jesus Himself said that Christians will be known by their love (John 13:35)!