Think Before You Speak Part 2: The Untamable Tongue

Photo Credit: Aaron Evans
tongue (noun)
1. Anatomy; the usually movable organ in the floor of the mouth in humans and most vertebrates, functioning in eating, in tasting, and, in humans, in speaking.
2. the human tongue as the organ of speech
3. the faculty or power of speech

In Part 1 of the Think Before You Speak Series, I addressed The Problem With Venting It’s time to take a closer look at the small, yet critical force that is our tongue, and I’d like to begin with a story…

“Well, ya know, I mean the Bible tells us to love everybody.  So yeah, I guess I love her.”  Ouch.  Those were the words I heard when my former Pastor asked my boyfriend at the time if he loved me.  We’d been having problems, and with talk of marriage it was imperative that we ironed our issues out.  Needless to say this comment was the nail in the coffin, and I cut ties with this individual almost immediately. I should’ve felt free and confidant, knowing that I would no longer have to spend any energy on someone who wasn’t worthy of my love and devotion.  I should’ve been relieved to have this toxic person out of my life.  I should’ve been able to shrug my shoulders and forget the hurtful things that were said, with as much ease as the shoulders shrugged who said them.  Alas, the story didn’t go that way.  His statement (among other unpleasant ones) left me feeling empty, insecure, and inadequateThe harsh words could not be taken back, and the pain I experienced was not easily overcome.

Friends, did you know that our words have the potential to cause harm?  I shared this with you to clearly illustrate what can happen when we underestimate the power of this tiny member of our body.  For all intensive purposes it’s nothing more than a necessary organ for eating and speaking, but used in the wrong way unspeakable damage can be done.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Have you ever said how broke you were financially and wondered why your income never increased?  Maybe you’ve been sick and instead of claiming your healing you cling to your miserable state as that cough or sore throat sticks with you for days. I’ve heard teachers or parents refer to a struggling child as slow or stupid (breaks my heart!) ,yet they act surprised when they bring home a failing grade.  The reason for this cause and effect is because we’ve turned our thoughts in to action and given place to those actions by the power of our words.

Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

When we speak death in our circumstances (negativity, defeat, hopelessness) that’s exactly what we’re going to receive.  On the other hand we can speak life (faith, love, and hope with a Godly perspective) and reap the benefits of using our words wisely.  This is not only true when dealing with our personal situations, but also in what we share with others. Are you bringing joy and peace, or harm and destruction into the life of someone else? I’ve been on the receiving end of both (as I’m sure we all have), and as much as the words of exhortation have lifted me up, words of devastation have also caused my spirit to come crashing down.

Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

I once heard a Pastor say the fork in the tongue is like the road.  We choose which direction to travel, and with the help of Holy Spirit we can be kept on the right path.  I understand that this message is not a new one, but I’m trusting it’s one that’s being shared in due season.  Each and every day we’re given numerous opportunities to use our words for good or for evil, and as James describes below, we ought to show the tongue the respect it deserves.  Let us all take a moment and consider how we can do more to “tame” the untamable tongue!

James 3:5-12 (NLT)

5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.  But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

Be blessed and stay tuned for Part 3!

Are you speaking life or death into your circumstances?

Do you encourage or discourage others when you speak to them?

Related Articles:

Think Before You Speak Part 1: The Problem With Venting

Photo Credit: Dan Pearce

At some point in time we’ve all heard it. “Think before you speak.” Often coupled with that saying is the old adage  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” By the way, I always find it fascinating when I realize how many of these popular phrases or sayings are based on Biblical principles. He may not always get the credit, but God sure knows what He’s talking about! Anyways, 😉 in my post, Anger Management, I said I’d be addressing the negative effect of harsh words.  With this being such a broad and important topic, I’ve decided to break it down into parts, with today’s focus being on venting

vent(vnt) n.

1. A means of escape or release from confinement; an outlet: give vent to one’s anger.

2. An opening permitting the escape of fumes, a liquid, a gas, or steam.

v. vent·ed, vent·ing, vents

1. To express (one’s thoughts or feelings, for example), especially forcefully.

2. To release or discharge (steam, for example) through an opening.

About a month ago I was speaking to a trusted confidante about an impending situation.  I was preparing to spend a great deal of time with someone who had a less than favorable opinion of me, and I was asking for her prayers. I knew better than to be anxious, but I was nervous and wanted to share some background information to give my friend a better understanding of the circumstances.  I spoke of the detailed accounts in which the person in question had hurt me or made me feel uncomfortable, but it wasn’t long before I stopped dead in my tracks.  Before continuing I asked her if the conversation was being productive, or was I merely venting?  You may find this to be an odd concern, because venting isn’t so bad right?  In fact many believe it’s a healthy necessity, and much better than the alternative of keeping one’s emotions bottled up.  Not too long ago I would’ve been in full agreement with this thought process, but that changed when God directed me to His Word:

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV)

A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.

Straightforward. Simple.  And it cut me to the bone like a razor-sharp two-edged swordI am not a fool, and I certainly don’t want my Father to think so!  But why does it say this? Are we really supposed to hold it all in, never having the opportunity to tell someone how we feel? Is that what the Lord wants and expects of us?  No, of course not!  We have every liberty in Christ to converse and grow with one another, informing each other of our thoughts and emotions. However, we are to do so using wisdom.

Proverbs 14:33

Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding,
But what is in the heart of fools is made known.

You see, when we vent we are using neither wisdom nor self-control.  Based on the definition given above, we are forcefully letting off steam, which does nothing to benefit the speaker or the hearer.  Expressing yourself is healthy and encouraged, but once your words are no longer doing more than allowing you to dwell in your sorrow or continue to bad-mouth someone, it’s time to do a self-check and stop!! The best way to do this is to examine your motives.  Are you still talking because you have to get it out?  Is your purpose to ensure that the awful portrait you’ve painted of someone or some situation is ingrained in the minds of all those who would listen? Or maybe you just enjoy hearing the sound of your own voice.  Either way it goes, the focus should be on finding your Godly solution, rather than giving priority to the issue at hand.

In my earlier example I was told that I was not going overboard or venting about my problem.  Even still, I made a conscious decision to move on, because no scenario deserves more time and energy than I give my Lord and Savior!  I encourage you all to think before you speak, enjoy the answers God provides, and let go of the problems the world brings!!

Be blessed and stay tuned for Part 2: The Untamable Tongue