Taming The Tongue – Easier Said Than Done!
Have you ever said something stupid? You know. That moment in time when words just come blurting out of your mouth before you even had time to consider how it might sound to others. It may have been the result of nervous energy or simply trying to fill an awkward moment of silence in a social setting. Regardless, your foot landed right in your mouth - a position that is never comfortable or desired!
To help compensate for my human failings, I often find encouragement in the warnings and advice found in the Proverbs. The no-nonsense honesty and vivid word pictures bring great insight, humor and conviction to my soul – and tongue. Here’s a few examples that prick my conscience and tug at my heart.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (12:25)
“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (21:9)
"A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand." (27:15-16) If that isn't bad enough, or if you haven't been in a house with a leaky roof recently, here's a different interpretation from The Message - "A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; You can't turn it off, and you can't get away from it." Quarrelsome or nagging, neither option is something I want to be known for - at home or among my friends or peers.
Seems like it would be wise to not only choose our words wisely so that we aren't known as a nagging or quarrelsome wife, but to keep anger from controlling our words as well. Check out these great word pictures -
“For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” (30:33)
“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. (17:1)
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” (29:11)
...and the classic, but oh-so-hard counsel of Proverbs 15:1 which says
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Bottom line, we need to be careful and wise about speaking words that may find themselves ripe and ready to come rolling off the tip of our tongues in the heat of the moment.
Many of our mothers gave great counsel when they taught us the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." That wise quote may not be an actual Biblical proverb, but its principle definitely runs parallel with the advise found in Ephesians 4:29 which says, "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."
The process of taming the tongue is not one that is quickly mastered. It's likely that we’ll all be working on it until the end of our days. It’s more than just thinking before we speak or counting to 10. We have to be able to focus in on what God has truly asked of us.
Our words should -
- Be wholesome
- Be kind and gentle
- Not be quarrelsome or nagging
- Not stir up anger and strife
- Benefit others who listen
Taming our tongues may take a lifetime of practice to achieve, but it must be possible – with the help of the Holy Spirit – or God wouldn’t have called us to it. I’ve got a lot of work to do. How about you?
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NASB)