Taming the Tongue

123/365 days of blogging.

The Bible has a great deal to say about our tongues and the things we say.  In Matthew 12:33-37 it says “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.  Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.  But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

This passage shows us the long-range consequences of our words, even though they may seem to us quite unimportant.  In the last chapter of the book of Proverbs God gives us a picture of a wonderful woman, one who was wise and skillful and talented.  But no one can be successful in life and be indiscriminate with his words.  And so fittingly we find in Proverbs 31, among the other virtues of this woman, a potent phrase which tells us that there were two principles which controlled everything that she said.  “She opens her mouth with wisdom,A nd on her tongue is the law of kindness.”  31:26.  These are the two scales on which God would have us as Christians weigh our words before they leave our lips – because very little can be done about the consequences once the words have been spoken.

First let us consider wisdom.  there has probably not been any age in history that has known so much idle chatter as this present one.  People seem to be convinced that if they are not talking all the time, others will think they are ignorant; so they fill all their hours with a constant chatter of smart little sayings, or with lengthy discussions on the most trivial matters, or with complaining and fault-finding because are not resolved to be content with the way things are.

But God says that we should weigh our words for their wisdom.  This does not mean that if you cannot discuss atomic fusion that God will judge you unfit for His kingdom.  Nor does it mean that you should sit back and act like a wilting flower.  But it does mean that you can sort out a large percentage of your conversations and replace it with things that in God’s eyes are counted worthwhile.  How long has it been since you and your friends discussed spiritual things over your cup of coffee – and that doesn’t mean picking apart the sermon from Sunday morning, or elaborating on why you do or do not agree with the preacher.  When you and your Christian friends get together, do you share with them the blessing the Lord gave you in your quiet time that morning?  Are your friends the kind of people who you can have that kind of relationship with?  Of course there are things that are so personal between you and God that you could not and should not share them with anyone, but there are a great many other things that God gives you just so that you might share them with others for their own profit and blessing.

And when you join your unsaved friends or neighbors in a social way, do you shy away from mentioning your faith?  Remember that Jesus said if you don’t acknowledge Him before others, you will be unworthy of His friendship and His acknowledgment of you before the Father.  Whose approval are you more concerned  about having?

Ephesians 4:29 says;  “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”  How many of your words edify?  Edify means to build up, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, not to tear down and undermine; to strengthen, not to weaken by poor example; to minister grace, not to depress and discourage.

And so God instructs us to weigh our words on the scale of wisdom, both for their immediate effect on the people who hear them, and their future evaluation by god in eternity.

Perhaps the best known scripture on the subject of the tongue is James :5-8  “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.  See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  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.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.  But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

There is a positive aspect of the kindness scale that should also be mentioned briefly.  The law of kindness on our tongues means that we are going to be quick to speak words of refreshment to the weary, words of encouragement to the discouraged, words of joy and hope to the downhearted.

Dear Father in Heaven, Keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking poison.  Amen”

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