Watch Your Tongue

tongueFor every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. James 3:7-10

Have you ever said something that you’ve regretted?  I have.  And, I knew the second it rolled off my tongue that I would.  Awful things, hurtful things, destructive things; comments that will be remembered for a lifetime.  And, in many cases, they were said to the people I love the most.  My wife, kids, friends, family, have all been the recipients of the deadly poison of my inability to curb my tongue.  How about you?

As it says in the book of James, we humans have tamed every kind of beast and bird, reptile, and creature, but we can’t tame our tongues.

If we could just learn to watch what we say, our words can just as easily be a blessing.  Have you ever had someone thank you for an encouraging word you might have spoken years earlier?  It happened to me just the other night.  A young man approached me at a banquet and said I had taught one of his classes almost ten years ago.

“That was the most important class I ever took in school!  Your encouragement, kindness, and challenging words really spoke to me.  Thank you.”

Wow! I can’t remember the class or what I said, but to this young man it was meaningful enough that he sought me out at the event.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.  James 1:26

So, how do we bridle our tongues and stop saying things we will regret, and say more things that will come back to us as a blessing.  Here are a few things we can do.

1. Ask God for His help.   Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth, a gatekeeper at my lips.  Do not let my heart incline to evil, or yield to any sin. I will never feast upon the fine food of evildoers.  Psalm 141:3-5

2. Think before you speak.  We need to listen more and say less.  We need to stop and think before we speak in anger.  Those who guard mouth and tongue guard themselves from trouble. Proverbs 21:23

3. Ask forgiveness for our hurtful speechWhen we have said something hurtful, we know it quickly.  Apologize right away, before the unkind words have had a chance to sink in.  And, mean it!  Then, ask our Lord for forgiveness and the help needed to watch what you say. I said, “I will watch my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth.”  Psalm 39:2

4. Take responsibility for your words.  You said then, you own them! Be conscious of what you say.  Ask this simply question, “What do I have to lose by being kind?”

5. Practice speaking positive things.  Offer encouragement, comfort, kindness, love, forgiveness, and grace.  They more we are conscious of positive speech the more we can find situations where we can be a blessing.

We really do have a choice.  For me, hurtful things I have said in the past haunt me. I’ve said enough for a lifetime.  As another proverb says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who choose one shall eat its fruit.  Proverbs 18:21

Humbly, I want to always choose Life!  How about you?

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