I know. I’ve said it more times than I can count–“I shouldn’t be saying this, but…” If there is anything that can get me in trouble, it’s my mouth. If you have read my last few posts, then you know the Lord has been dealing with me lately about what it means to really love Him with all that I am–all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we are reminded that we are not our own. We were bought with the precious blood of Jesus, and we belong to Him–all of us. And that includes our mouths.
I’ll be the first to admit: the tongue is very difficult to tame. There was a time in my Christian life when I didn’t even consider my words that important. I went to church, did all the right things, but it never bothered me to talk about someone or even just say what was on my mind. But the closer I got to the Lord, and the more I read His Word, the more I felt convicted about my words. Words are very important to God. Look at what James, the brother of Jesus said:
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1;26, NIV).
Wow! If we think we can just say whatever we feel, we are deceiving ourselves. James goes on in chapter 3 to say that the tongue “corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (6). Well, when I think about some of the hurtful things that have been said to me or about my family, I can understand that. And I’m guilty of hurting others with my words, too.
If we want to have mouths that are under the control of the Holy Spirit, we need to give more thought to our words. After all, they are a reflection of what is in our hearts. Jesus said,
“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
Angry words come from an unforgiving heart. Foolish words come from an undisciplined heart. Disrespectful words come from a rebellious heart. Gossip comes from a jealous heart. Lying words come from a deceitful heart. Harsh words come from a hard heart. We need to ask God to search our hearts and show us any underlying sin that is affecting our speech.
“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).
Think back over this past week to your conversations at home, at work, and at church. Have there been careless words, angry words, gossip, maybe even cursing? If so, take time now to stop and pray. Ask God to forgive you for hurting others with your words. (And let’s not excuse gossip as prayer requests. If we wouldn’t say something in front of a person, we shouldn’t say it.)
In Ephesians 4, Paul wrote a whole discourse on what it means to live as children of light. (It’s worth reading at least once a week!) One of the points he makes is that when we cease a sinful behavior, we need to replace it with a godly behavior. Notice God’s Word in verse 29:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
We would all do well to memorize that one, wouldn’t we? So, since we as believers belong to the Lord, let’s give Him our lips and let Him use them for His glory. Just imagine the good we can do with mouths that are surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Instead of anger, anointing. Instead of foolishness, fire for the Lord. Instead of disrespect, discipline. Instead of gossip, encouragement. Instead of lying words, loving words. Instead of harsh words, helpful words.
The more we meditate on God’s Word, the more our minds and our mouths will line up with His. When we speak, we should speak what He would speak.
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11).
Our conversations should be graceful.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
Our words should bring healing and not harm to others.
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4a).
Our mouths should not be used to sin.
“I have resolved that my mouth will not sin” (Psalm 17:3b).
Our tongues should be instructed in wisdom that will help others.
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” (Isaiah 50:4).
These are great verses to memorize if you have a mouth problem, like me. That last one is my favorite, because if we will waken early to seek the Lord and listen to His voice, I truly believe He will honor us with a tongue that brings instruction and sustains the weary.
Taming the tongue is really difficult for us sanguines who love to talk, but God, as always, gives us instruction and help through His Holy Spirit. If we will humble ourselves before Him and confess our sinful speech, I believe He will honor our desire to be a blessing.
I hope this helps you today–it certainly helped me to be reminded of these things. Let’s seek to love God with all we are and honor Him with our lips. You can start right now with this prayer:
Father, I come before you today to admit that I have sinned with my mouth. I confess those sins to you right now. Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love and cleanse my heart and my mouth from sinful attitudes and words. Let Your praise be always on my lips (Psalm 34:1). In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.