“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
I have a confession to make: I do not always speak kind words. Shocking, I know. Please tell me that I am not the only one who struggles in this area. I am sure that I am not. The reason I can be sure of this is for two reasons: first, because I know we are all human; second, because the Bible has warning after warning about watching our tongues. This lets me know that God understood that we would need guidance in this area of life, possible more than any other.
Words. Such powerful little things. Too many times I think we forget the power our words hold. How many times do we open our mouths and say something, never taking the time to think how it will affect someone else? If we are honest there are even times that we KNOW how our words will affect someone else and we choose to say them anyway.
I think in order for us to know how to control our words and our tongues we need to look into what the Bible says about them.
In James 3:8-10 we read: “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
Now, you may be saying, “Valarie, that does not bring me very much hope.” I thought the same thing at first, but then I realized something. Look at the first sentence again: “No HUMAN BEING can tame the tongue.” Do you see that? This verse tells me right from the start that without God guarding my tongue I am hopeless. I can not do it on my own.
In Psalm 141:3 we read: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”
Here is our answer. We must allow God to guard our tongues. Without God we have no hope of controlling our mouths.
You may be asking: “Why is it important for me to control my mouth?” or “What does it matter what I say?”
Here is what I have found as I have been studying on controlling my tongue:
- Matthew 12:34b: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
- Proverbs 13:3: “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
- Ephesians 4:29: “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.”
- Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- James 1:26: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”
- Matthew 12:37: “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I want to end with this last Scripture: Matthew 12:36: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
When I read this Scripture I was quickly reminded of just how important my words are. Yes, our words effect other people. Yes, our words show what is in our hearts. But, most importantly I realized in studying about my words that one day I am going to give account for every careless word I said. I do not know about you, but for me that is a very sobering thought. How many times do careless words come out of our mouths and we just let them go? If we find that more careless words are coming out of our mouths than encouraging, uplifting words maybe we need to examine our hearts and see what is in there that we need to turn over to God.
Let us remember today that we are responsible for every single word that comes out of our mouths. Alone we can not control our tongues. We must allow God to speak through us. Our words can heal or hurt, they can build up or knock down, and they can bring others to God or cause them to turn away.
I want to offer some encouragement today. Let us allow God to guard our tongues. Let us focus on speaking words that encourage and lift up rather than discourage and tear down. Let us use the mouths that God gave to us to minister for Him. Most of all I want us to remember that in the end we will stand before God and answer for the words that we allowed to come out of our mouths.
In closing I would like to leave us with this questions to ponder: What are my words saying?