Taming the Tongue

Whoever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” was not, in my opinion, telling the truth. Of course it is accurate that words do not cause physical injury to a person. However at an emotional and spiritual level, words are potent. They can steal hope, discourage progress, undermine faith and destroy love. They can lift a person up, or tear him down. Within a marriage and family they can bind the members together or tear them apart.

Although improving our speech is always a good project, what better time than the start of a new year to break some bad habits and start talking God’s way? For those of us who have the “gift of gab” we need to be especially alert to kinds of speech that should be eliminated and others that should be developed into healthy habits. Consider the kind of communication that the Bible warns against:

Arguing/Complaining Philippians 2:14

Gossip Proverbs 16:28, II Corinthians 12:20

Harsh words Proverbs 15:1

Deception/lying Proverbs 12:22, Micah 6:12-13, Colossians 3:8-10

Foolish/silly talk Proverbs 18:6-7, Ephesians 5:4

Cursing Exodus 20:7, James 3:10

Insolence/boasting Romans 1:29-32, Psalms 94:4

Threats/attacking words Psalms 64:3-4, I Peter 2:22-23

Careless words Matthew 12:34-37

Flattery Psalms 5:9, Psalms 12:3-4

Slander Psalms 15:1-5

Rash/impulsive words Proverbs 12:18

But Scripture doesn’t just tell us how NOT to talk, it tells us what kinds of words we SHOULD use:

Wise words Proverbs 31:26

Words of blessing I Peter 3:9-10

Words that build up Ephesians 4:29

Sweet speech Proverbs 16:21

Persuasive words Acts 28:23-24

Controlled words Proverbs 17:27-28

Gentle words Proverbs 15:1 & 4

Truth with love Psalm 15:1-5, Ephesians 4:15

Controlled, thoughtful words Proverbs 15:28

Thanksgiving Ephesians 5:4, Colossians 3:17

Praise to God Hebrews 13:15, Psalm 34:1

Words testifying of our hope I Peter 2:9, I Peter 3:15

Confessions of faith Romans 10:9-10

Words filled with grace Colossians 4:6

Encouraging words Proverbs 12:25, Job 4:3-4

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” So as I start into 2014…

Lord, help me to be a verbal LIFE-GIVER this year. Help me listen more and blab less. Keep me quiet when I feel like flying off the handle. Fill my mouth daily with speech that is loving, gentle, joyful, inspiring, and full of hope. Make me a tongue-tamed, word-watching, faith-feeding, praise-proclaiming, gladness-giving kind of talker! Help me say what Jesus would! Make the words of my mouth acceptable to You! And THAT, I know, will make for a truly wonderful gift of gab!”