Nineteenth century preacher Adoniram Judson Gordon said, “Before Pentecost the disciples found it hard to do easy things; after Pentecost they found it easy to do hard things.” Taming one’s tongue may be a “hard thing,” but because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, it needn’t be an impossibility. Perhaps we cringe at the thought of some harsh words we wish we could take back—words that have polluted the people we love the most. Is it possible now to clean up the mess and make reparations? The answer is an unequivocal yes! Be encouraged with these words from 2 Peter:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3,4).
God has given us everything we need to live godly lives! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is resident in us (Romans 8:11). But we must do our part, by being diligent to guard our hearts, because “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). The heart referred to in this verse is not the vital organ that pumps blood throughout our body; it is the seat of our emotions, and represents our inner person. Clearly, if we want to change our speech, we must first allow God to change our heart.
Consider these verses from Proverbs:
- “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23).
- “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin” (10:8).
- “A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly” (12:23).
- “The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of the fool feeds on folly” (15:14).
- “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil” (15:28).
- “The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction” (16:21).
The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to, “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Once a thought enters our minds, we have to discern whether it is of God, or contrary to the knowledge of God. If we discern that the thought is against God, we need not give it further rein by speaking it or acting on it.
Before we speak, we need to ask ourselves the following questions from Philippians 4:8:
- Is it true? Is it noble? Is it right?
- Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it admirable?
- Is it excellent? Is it praiseworthy?
What thoughts or heart-issues might affect your speech? (anger, insecurity, etc.)
What steps can you take to resolve those areas with the Lord’s help?
In The Power of a Woman’s Words, Sharon Jaynes shares a good illustration of a tamed tongue:
I was with a friend who was being treated very unfairly. Someone had approached her about coauthoring a book. Plans were made, contracts were discussed, and content was already forming in her mind. But then she received a phone call from the spouse of the coauthor, who stopped the project.
Several people were in earshot of this conversation. I was upset that my friend was being treated in such a manner! However, rather than react in anger or defend herself, my friend graciously and with the love of Christ spoke words of kindness. Rather than becoming angry, she exuded the fragrance of Christ and it permeated the entire office.1
This is the choice we all can make. Though anger is a natural response of our flesh to irritating people and circumstances, we can choose to not give in to its tyranny. Rather than using our words in anger, we can choose to be “the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Rather than complaining, we can cultivate a thankful heart. Rather than sowing seeds of dissension, we can foster reconciliation and restoration.
1Sharon Jaynes, The Power of a Woman’s Words (Harvest House Publishers, 2007), 183,184.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.
“The Power of a Woman's Words” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, 2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.