TAMING THE TONGUE


Have you ever had one of those moments (or days) when you opened your mouth and out came something that surprised even you? You wanted to suck those words right back into your mouth? Later all you could think was “me and my mouth! God help me to know when to keep it shut!”

Well, you’re not alone in that struggle to keep a spiritually hygienic mouth; that on-going battle to reign-in the tongue.

The Scriptures have a lot to say about an “unbridled mouth”.

James 3:7-8  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.”

We need to renew our thinking about what come out of our mouths. In the words of Edwin H. Stuart, “Remember, every time you open your mouth to talk, your mind walks out and parades up and down the words.”*

 Eph. 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths . . . .   (English Standard Version)

The New International Version uses the term “unwholesome” in its translation of the Eph. 4:29, but the translation “corrupting” points to the results of unwholesome speech; it has a negative impact on those who hear it, as well as those who use it. There are four speech areas I’d like to address in this article.

Profanity

Unwholesome talk includes profanity and swearing – carelessly invoking God or Jesus’ name in cursing people or objects; misusing His name is sacrilege –  degrading that which is holy – lifting God’s name up to emptiness.

 James 2:10-11 says: Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

An old farmer who was known for the use of profanity, drove his team of mules into town and was very late returning home.  “What took you so long?” asked his wife.  “Well,” the farmer explained, “on the way home I had to pick up the preacher, and from there on, these mules of ours didn’t understand one word I said.”

Profanity may or may not be an intentional blasphemy or desecration of God’s holiness on the part of the person swearing, but the profane use of God’s name is intentional on the devil’s part. The enemy seeks to defame God and to cause His name to be used as just another word to express strong emotion.

Have you ever noticed that people who swear or invoke a curse, never use the names of other “gods”, such as Buddha, or Allah, or Krishna, or a myriad of other “gods”?  It’s always “Jesus!” or “Jesus Christ!” or “oh, God!”

 Ex.20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

I also believe that to speak disparagingly about the Lord, to say things that cause others to doubt His love or His faithfulness, is a form of profanity. To do so profanes the character and integrity of our Heavenly Father.

Lying

Col. 3:9-10 speaks of another unwholesome use of the tongue:

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Jesus addressed a group of “religious” people in John 8:44 regarding their practice of lying:

“You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He . . . does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

When people speak lies, they are cooperating with the “father of lies”. Even to ask your child to answer the phone and say you are not home when you are there is encouraging an “unwholesome use of the tongue” and corrupting your child.

Obscenity

Obscenity, coarseness, filthy language and crude jokes, phone and cyber-sex, all have a corrupting influence – a slime that is left behind, the feeling that a bath is needed after participating in or overhearing such talk. Such communication should never be a part of a Christian’s life.

Col. 3:8 “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

Gossip & Slander

Gossip and slander are other forms of unwholesome talk, and the corrupting influence is that of ruining someone’s reputation or good name, or causing others to think less of that person

Gossip has been defined as “sharing private information [about others] with those who are neither a part of the problem nor a part of the solution.” ***

Someone once said, “Gossiping is the art of confessing other people’s sins.”

I remember a story about a woman who had just heard her pastor present a sermon on the tongue, in which he addressed the topic of gossip. Later that day the woman heard a bit of “information” about someone and couldn’t wait to share the juicy morsel with her friend. She began her phone call by saying, “I know that pastor said this morning we should not repeat gossip, so you have to listen very carefully the first time I tell you this.”

It isn’t the things that go in one ear and out the other that hurt as much as the things that go in one ear, get all mixed up, and then slip out the mouth. **

Your friend has a friend, and your friend’s friend has a friend; be discreet.  [The Talmud]

Eph. 4:29-30 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.   (ESV)

Even prayer meetings where people’s needs are shared openly can border on, or lead into gossip.

These questions need to be considered: why is this information being shared? Is this information going to result in anyone being built up or graced by God? Does sharing this information grieve or please the Holy Spirit? Can we through our prayers be a part of the solution?

Tongue Tamers

There are some things we can do to help tame the tongue – to harness it and prevent unwholesome and corrupting speech from escaping our lips.

  • Ask God for His help – At the beginning of each day ask God to set a seal on your mouth, to keep you alert to think before you speak.
  • Look for the “way of escape” when the moment of temptation comes to misuse this wonderful gift of speech.
  • To correct profanity, confess it to the Lord and tell Him you will no longer carelessly use His name. Remember, “practice makes permanent”.
  • To correct a gossip habit, develop the habit of speaking well of people, even defending them; make a point of not saying something that you could not say directly to the person.
  • In place of cursing, learn to bless others, even your enemies.
  • If your problem is a critical tongue, make a point of complimenting and building others up. This does not mean that you can never speak a corrective word or give a constructive word of advice, but the goal should be encouragement.
  • If filthy talk is an issue, you may need deliverance from a spirit of lust or sexual perversion – seek out Godly counsel for help and deliverance prayer.
  • Remember that “self-control” is a fruit of the Spirit of God who lives in you if you are one of His children – it is really “Christ-control”.  Consciously surrender your mouth to the Holy Spirit each day.
  • If you still struggle with an untamed tongue, ask God to show you the root of your issue and to do a spiritual “root canal” so that your mouth will honor your Heavenly Father and bring glory to His name.

Remember today to commit your tongue to the Lord – He will help you fulfill His command to:

    Col. 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

©2011, Marcy Alves

Photo: Indian Tiger by Christopher Moncrieff/Dreamstime.com photos

* Great Quotes &Illustrations

**Illustrations Unlimited

*** Bill Gothard, Basic Youth Conflicts

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About Marcy

I love my Father-God. Together we are walking through a season of my life where I am standing with him against cancer. He is my strength and trust. As one of his daughters, my passion is to share his love with others in practical, everyday illustrations and insights.

Posted on September 18, 2011, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, God Encounters, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. ”Gossip and slander are other forms of unwholesome talk, and the corrupting influence is that of ruining someone’s reputation or good name, or causing others to think less of that person”

    I totally agree. I was at a drama group meeting at my church with other church drama members when they started talking about a fellow member not present. How she never listens to what anybody has to say and how her clothes are always so tight etc.

    And after that day, rather than looking at her without judgement like I used to, I started judging her excessively. So gossip is really bad as it causes me to see people in negative lights even before I know them (which I’m trying to change) lol.

    I also think the tongue is connected to the brain and your thoughts. It’s harder to tame your thoughts than your tongue but if you can tame your thoughts, you have less chance of saying sinful stupid things 😀

    • Lola, Thanks for your comments on “Taming the Tongue”. We have all fallen into the temptation to enter into confessions of another’s sins. And our thoughts have to be changed before our mouths can be tamed. You might be interested in a 3-part blog I did called Renewing Your Mind. Thanks for reading.

  2. Great job on this post honey. God has really given you insight and clarity about words and the tongue. I’m especially appreciative of the insight from Eph. 4.29. The use of the word “corrupting” versus the NIV’s use of “unwholesome.” Unwholesome does not get at the polluting or spoiling image that corrupting does. We all know what it’s like when a computer file is corrupted. To describe the file as unwholesome would miss the point.

    Our words can corrupt or encourage. I choose to encourage. Thanks.

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