Power Of The Tongue

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Our bible study in the book of James has moved into chapter 3 and I wanted to share this with you. In this chapter, and in many other passages, we see just how our words affect ourselves and others. Let’s look for a few minutes into the wisdom of God's Word and reflect on the power of the tongue.

Proverbs 21:23 reminds us, "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."

Our words have the potential to shape our destinies, steering us away from unnecessary troubles when spoken with wisdom.

In James 3:8-12, we confront the untamed nature of the tongue. It declares that no human can tame the tongue, yet in Matthew 19:26, Jesus reassures us that “with God, all things are possible.” Is this a contradiction? I think not. The key to controlling our tongues lies in partnering with the Holy Spirit and relinquishing reliance on our willpower to keep our tongue in check.

Here are a few practical steps to help you seek God’s help as you control your speech:

Dedicate Your Heart, Mind, and Tongue to the Lord Daily: Consider Psalm 141:3, a prayer to the Lord: "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." This plea reflects a desire for divine guidance in our speech. The tongue is merely the instrument that delivers what is in your heart and mind. Seek purity in thought and then offer your words to God as a sacrifice of praise. Fill your heart and mind with thoughts that align with God's commands.

Pray for Awareness of Your Words: Our speech can often be driven by our emotions or frustrations. Ask God for discernment and grace to be conscious of your words. Be intentional in your speech, remaining silent or boldly speaking up as needed, but remember “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: ” (James 1:19b)

Surrender Your "Right" to Complain: Recognize that complaining is not an entitlement. Sometimes our response to a situation we don’t like could be characterized as, “Ready, Fire, Aim!” Wisdom is found in avoiding negativity in the presence of others. Turn your negative words into prayer. Paul instructed us to, "Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
" (Philippians 2:14-15)

Ask for Forgiveness: Acknowledge when you have wronged someone through your speech and seek forgiveness. It’s always important to seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt, even if it is hard to do. Jesus said that “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24) Recognize that controlling the tongue is a challenge, but repentance to God and others is a step towards commitment to change the way we speak.

Practice Speaking Life: If this practice is the overarching principle of your speech, your words will encourage, comfort, edify, and inspire. Let these words from Ephesians 4:29 guide you in building up others with your words. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

There is an old Cherokee parable of two wolves that a grandfather told to his grandson that illustrates our struggle with our tongue well.

"It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one wolf is light and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offence when no offence was intended. But the other wolf is darkness and full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, because both of the wolves try to dominate my spirit." The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, "Which wolf will win, grandfather?" The grandfather smiled and said, "The one I feed."

The apostle Paul illustrates this warfare in our mind this way and how we can be delivered from it. (Romans 7:21-25 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin

Here is a prayer for this week. Lord, I know my tongue often gets ahead of my mind and heart. I am quick to speak, and I repent of the many thoughtless things I have spoken in haste. I am sorry for words I have spoken in anger or in gossip. Please help me to see when I am about to speak without thinking and to check my heart. Help me be slow to speak. Help me Lord to be a person full of loving words, full of your Spirit, overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Amen.

Credit: Ron Kelley 

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