Taming the Tongue
Do you ever say too much? Do you ever have a lapse in judgment and say more than you mean to? I cannot tell you how many times my tongue has gotten me in trouble. In high school it was often with snippy comments to my mom. Other times it was gossip. Now it is with a sarcastic comment to my husband or simply revealing more information than necessary to someone who really has no business knowing whatever I am saying. I do not know why I feel the need to express every thought that runs through my mind!
James hit the nail on the head with this one: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3: 5-8)
A restless evil, full of deadly poison…wow.
As I am recalling one of these moments I am contemplating what could have been done differently. In all my infinite wisdom this is what I came up with: sometimes I just need to shut up. This must be what my dad was referring to when he said, “You can’t un-ring a bell.” Once something is said it is out there-forever.
There are numerous passages throughout scripture that address this issue. I have listed just a few below.
-Psalm 34:12-13- “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.”
-James 1:26- “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
-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 29:11-“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
-Matthew 12: 34-37-“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Out of the overflow, the abundance, of our hearts the mouth speaks.
And there it is, the answer to the mystery of controlling our tongues, right there in black and white. Taming the tongue is a heart issue. And that scares me. The reason I continue to say more than I should is because I am not taking care of the root problem-my heart. It is easier to just keep plugging away, vowing to do better next time, than to put in the necessary time and energy to change my heart.
The next time you feel the urge to lose control of your tongue, take a minute, step back, and look at your heart. Taking care of the heart seems to be one “secret” to keeping our lives in check.
The tongue is a heart issue. How ironic.
Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.