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Taming the Tongue

blog“Great job on your presentation!” “Your daughter is always so well behaved.” “I love spending time with you.” It’s amazing how one sentence of encouragement can make someone’s day. Our thoughts can sometimes make us doubt our worth or our accomplishments, and one person’s uplifting words can dissipate the negativity and bring a smile to our faces. Powerful, isn’t it?

We know our spoken words carry power with them . . . power to advance and power to change someone’s thought patterns. The Bible tells us if we speak out His word, we can move things and circumstances for our own good and the good of others. Our small tongue can change things and people. With all this power, it’s no wonder we are taught in the Bible to control our tongues.

Several months ago, I listened to a gun safety instructor as he warned his students to always think through the path of their bullet before their gun trigger is pulled. “What do you mean, the path of my bullet?” asked his eager student. The wise teacher explained, “Legally the person who pulls the trigger is not only responsible for where the bullet ultimately lands, but even the damage it causes as it is headed to its intended target. One misfired bullet in your house can cut through your sheet rock, soar through the front yard, and end up doing damage to the neighbor across the street.”

Words as powerful as bullets? Proverbs 18:21 tells us: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” How about when I wrap the bullet in bubble wrap? Surely it doesn’t hurt when I add “I was just joking” or when gossip is coated in sappy phrases like “Bless her heart, she is so (fill in the blank).” How about when we turn it into a prayer request: “We really need to pray for her . . . oh, you didn’t hear what she did?” The victim isn’t injured if he/she isn’t present when the gun is fired, right? Are we telling ourselves that words spoken outside of the person’s earshot don’t destroy?

I love surrounding myself with people who speak highly of others. Have you ever met someone for the first time and you like them already because of the great things you have heard about them? Our words are truly like seeds that carry a potential crop. Will they be a crop of blessings and life or curses and death? We are hourly given the choice. Let’s choose life! By the way, “I like your shoes!”

The following are some verses on controlling our tongues:

Proverbs 12:18 – Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 10:19 – When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Proverbs 21:23 – He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Psalms 34:13 – Keep your tongues from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

James 1:26 – If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Proverbs 17:28 – Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Check out James 3:1-12 . . . It’s all about taming the tongue.

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