How much trouble has your mouth gotten you in? Has your mouth ever caused others to think you’re crazy, undisciplined, ignorant? When was the last time you wrote a check with your mouth that you couldn’t cash? How often do you have to apologize for speaking rudely or sarcastically? Maybe you’ve said something inappropriately followed by, “Ha-Ha. That was a joke.” Or have you ever answered before hearing the full question? Well, if you are honest with yourself, you’ve experienced something above to some level. And guess what? You aren’t alone!
I know some people think this doesn’t describe them. The truth is until the tongue is trained for godliness, it’s wild. A great part of our salvation (about half) is wrapped up in how we treat others. I always find it interesting to hear how people who claim they love God speak to people. I heard a story of a man who was a diehard church goer who didn’t curse. But when people stressed him out he would s-p-e-l-l the word he would say, if he cursed. And he truly believed spelling it was different than speaking it.
Proverbs 17:27 tells us, ‘A knowledgeable person controls his tongue; a discerning person controls his temper because he understands.’ Again, in Proverbs 18:21 we find, ‘The tongue has power over life and death; those who indulge it must eat its fruit.’ James picks it up in James 1:26, ‘Anyone who thinks he is religiously observant but does not control his tongue is deceiving himself, and his observance counts for nothing.’ He continues in chapter 3 verses 5-9 ‘So too the tongue is a tiny part of the body, yet it boasts great things. See how a little fire sets a whole forest ablaze! Yes, the tongue is a fire, a world of wickedness. The tongue is so placed in our body that it defiles every part of it, setting ablaze the whole of our life; and it is set on fire by Gei-Hinnom itself. For people have tamed and continue to tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures; but the tongue no one can tame — it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison! With it we bless Adonai, the Father; and with it we curse people, who were made in the image of God.’ All scriptures Complete Jewish Bible.
We often associate importance with size; size doesn’t determine importance. The tongue is a small part of the human anatomy; however, it gets us into more trouble than almost anything else in our lives. How many people have been killed and wars started because one or both sides couldn’t keep their mouths closed?
People can tame animals. The zoo is filled with what are normally wild animals, animals in nature would attach a person without provocation or because they believe they are protecting their young. Circus’ are filled with once wild animals: lions, tigers, and bears, Oh my. But the animal trainer can walk among them! These animals ride bikes, walk on balls, sit on command, roll over and play dead and jump thru burning hoops. However, taming the tongue is a completely different feat.
I’m not sure what is going on in the picture above, it looks like the man is playing with the lion’s foot. Maybe something is in its paw? Did you notice all the other lions in the background? He’s able to control these wild beasts. Can you control your tongue?
Are you giving people a piece of your mind? If your purpose in life is to see the face of God in peace, your tongue must be tamed. If must be brought under submission to the will and the mind of God.
This is no small task! Yet, if you want to live a peaceable life with God and man, this is something that must be done. But how?
To tame the tongue a person must first want to change. If you don’t want to change, any change is minimum at best but more like impossible by default. A person must be open and honest with their self to begin to change for the better. Another part of subjecting your tongue is to change your diet. Garbage in is garbage out. The diet is what you listen to, read, and watch. You’re going to speak what you know and that comes from what you’re injecting. That is how we learn to communicate. If a newborn is surrounded by only Spanish speaking people, that baby’s first words would be in Spanish, not Mandarin.
You must feed your mind and body life-giving foods. Positive thoughts without sarcasm. You must choose life to purge your mind, body, and spirit of filthy and evil communications. You must read and reread the word of God and other positive writings.
Another part of this is to think before you speak. There’s a construction term, measure twice cut once. This can be applied to our dialogue. Think about what was said. Think about the result of your reply. Take a deep breath before you respond to anything. Exhale slowly then speak. You won’t be held accountable for what other people say and do but you are judged by people and God based on what you say and do.
There are so many steps to taming the tongue these are only a few. But before I end, this is one of the most important steps, you must see yourself taking the steps to be in control of your tongue. Until you begin to see you in control of your body you won’t begin the process of making changes.
Again, James tells us, ‘Anyone who thinks he is religiously observant but does not control his tongue is deceiving himself, and his observance counts for nothing.’ All your labor of love…nothing. All your time in study…nothing. All the people you have lead to the truth… NOTHING!
How do we control our tongue? Is it enough to not open your mouth? I don’t think so. God is looking and listening to the cry of our hearts, just as He listens to the words of our mouth. The heart can be desperately wicked, see Genesis 6:5. And Psalm 10:13 teaches that even in silence the tongue is wicked. The tongue is untamed and unruly by nature. But for the godly, it can be…it must be tamed… AND it will be tamed if you let God be God in every aspect of your life. After all,
What good will it do someone if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Matthew 16:26a