Taming the Tongue
Focus Scripture: James 3: 7-8
It is much harder for me to begin this blog than I thought.
I am the last person in the world that should be writing on Taming the Tongue.
Here are a few qualifications that make me unfit to write this blog:
1) I teach my children proper road rage etiquette.
2) I am socially awkward. I will sit quiet for long periods of time, then out of know where, unpack my skeletal closet at inopportune times.
3) I am the loving mother one minute and crazed monster the next.
There are others, but you get the point.
Yet, despite my tendency act like a First Responder to all situations going on under my roof, God speaks to even me through his word. His truths remind me how we are called to speak and share a message of redemption with others who might feel the same as we do. Do you often find you need a tongue tamer?
I invite you to find James 3:7-8 in your bible or following along here:
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (NIV)
EEK. I mean, the message is pretty clear: God is warning us – the tongue is restless and never stops trying to get us in trouble. James says that NO men have successfully tamed the tongue.
I came up with a pretty long list of times my tongue gets me in the most trouble:
In an email
With my son
At the “water cooler”
In my thoughts
With my husband
With a referee
Do you have a list of triggers?
Try this exercise: Take a moment to think or journal how your tongue has gotten you into trouble. Try speed journaling - set your timer for 60 seconds and make your list of triggers without overthinking or editing. After you have your list, look back and CIRCLE the one or two that happen the most often. Next, place a CHECKMARK by those that have the biggest negative impact. Are any of your words circled AND checked?
James calls us to action by asking, “Do you praise your Lord with the same tongue you just cursed your neighbor with? The same neighbor who was made in God’s image? How can salt and fresh water come from the same place”?
Take one of the items from your list, preferably one that is both checked and circled or if there are none, choose one or the other - something that really gets you going from 0-60 in .2 seconds, and afterwards, leaves you with remorse, guilt, anger, frustration, defeat and more and pray specifically for God to help you in this way:
1) Lord, help me not to believe the lies of Satan any more. Satan is skilled at taking a small annoyance, exaggerating it, combining it with all other annoyances in your life and growing it into a firestorm of fear, anger and more. Psalm 5:9 says,
"Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies."
2) Lord, let me see others through your eyes. My triggers are often people. What I've learned is my amazing lack of patience does not contribute well to many situations. God encourages us to guard and fill our hearts with what is pure so that our actions and our tongues are spared. This means seeing others through God’s eyes and not my own exaggerated sense of fear, anger or loathing.
3) Lord, fill me with your holy peace. So if the odors coming from my son’s room, and the grades on the report cards and the cave-man like approach to life do NOT mean that he will never, ever wear anything other than the same pair basketball shorts for days in a row, or leave the same unidentified objects in the middle of his bedroom floor, and it does not mean he will be unemployable and never get married, what DO they mean? I mean, really? What is the impact? I’m just supposed to let that all go and not address the poor behavior? No. God says, “Calm down. I’ve got this. He is fearfully and wonderfully made. “(Psalm 139:14, NIV)
4) Lord, strengthen and protect me. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says just that: "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." It is not work on our part that changes us from the inside out, but is a spiritual transformation that begins and ends with God. But he invites us to participate in receiving his instruction and bringing him the glory through our obedience.
Where can you begin today? Are you ready to look deeply and ask God for help? According to the exercise above, what controls you more than you’d like to admit? Are you ready to let God work in your life so that you can spend your time, emotions, energy and actions on things that lift others up rather than on things that tear them down and tear you down in the process? Are you ready to let God change you so that you do not pick on the speck in someone’s eyes? Let’s take that step together. Pray this prayer with me:
Father, today I take my first breath because of you and know that each breath is numbered. Help me to live each breath with purity and goodness and faith and hope. Lord, I struggle to keep my tongue in check and that specifically, (______) is my current struggle. I wish to be released of this struggle and I lay it at your feet. Show me where I fail Lord, convict my heart, whisper your dear encouragement in my ear and show me how I can replace the ugliness in my heart with the fruit of the spirit so that others are spared of the evils of my tongue. In Jesus’ name. Amen.