Thoughts of...My Tongue
At times I speak without thinking, saying something I immediately wished I had not. Sometimes I will offend someone with my words and, in my oblivion, be completely unaware of doing so. Other times I will be talking when I get the sudden realization that I should have stopped talking a long time ago because my words have become annoying or irritating. Periodically my sense of humor has very bad timing. On the other hand, I occasionally say something that comforts and encourages a loved one or a friend. What is the deal with my tongue? Why is it so inconsistent?
Actually, there is nothing wrong with my tongue. My tongue merely reveals what is in my heart. Preceding every word I speak is a choice made in my heart. Are the words on the tip of my tongue motivated by the love of self or the love of God? Is the “old man” in control of my tongue or is the “new man?” Will my tongue be an implement of my flesh or an implement of the Holy Spirit?
When I give my tongue to my flesh, I speak to my wife, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and perfect strangers with words of:
1. Destruction and deceit (Rom 3:10-14, Ps 52:2-4, Jer 9:1-8)
2. Curses and lies, trouble and evil (Ps 10:7, Ps 59:12)
3. Flattery (Ps 12:1-4, Prov 26:28)
4. Boasting (Ps 94:1-4, Prov 6:16-19)
5. Malice (Prov 17:4, Prov 30:11-14)
6. Ridicule (Is 57:3-4, Job 21:1-3, Ps 22:7-8)
7. Condemnation (Prov 15:4, James 5:12)
8. Slander (Prov 10:18, Prov 11:9)
The childhood chant, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” could not be any further from the truth. My old man speaks rash and reckless words (Ps 106:32-33, Prov 12:18, Judges 11:30-40). No matter how hard or how long I try, I am unable to restrain my tongue, which relentlessly spews forth the evil and poisonous fire from a desperately wicked and deceitful heart (James 3:2-8, Jer 17:9).
However, when I let the Holy Spirit control my tongue, God uses it to speak words of:
1. Praise and joy (Ps 35:27-28, Ps 66:16-17, Ps 119:171-172, Ps 150:6)
2. Wisdom (Ps 37:30, Prov 10:31, Prov 31:26, Col 3:16)
3. Healing (Prov 12:18, Prov 15:4)
4. Truth in love (Prov 28:23, Eph 4:14-16)
5. Encouragement and comfort (1 Cor 14:3, 1 Thes 5:11, Eph 5:18-19)
6. His compassion, grace, mercy, and love (Ps 86:11-15, Ps 51:7-15)
An unbridled tongue leads to chaos that dishonors the King Who died for me. Therefore, I need to hold my wicked tongue (Ps 34:13, Ps 39:1, Prov 10:19, Prov 11:12, Prov 17:27-28, Prov 21:23, James 1:26). I must resolve in my heart and in my mind that my tongue will not sin (Ps 17:1-3, Ps 15, Job 31:29-30, Job 27:1-5). Because the tongue has the power of life and death (Prov 18:21), I need the Lord to guard my tongue (Ps 141:1-4, Prov 13:1-3).
The dilemma in the opening paragraph, as James wrote, should not be so (James 3:9-10). Before I speak do I count my old man as dead to sin (Rom 6:6-11)? Who is using my tongue, me or the Lord? It’s my choice. One choice will result in words of cursing and the other choice in words of blessing. I must surrender my heart and my tongue to the Lord because His words are ringing in my ears (Matt 12:35-37).