Our shoes can say a lot about us, can’t they? I look at the shoes which belong to my children and many things could be used to describe them. My son’s shoes are more worn out than my daughters and it tells me that he plays rough and tough! He is all boy and could care less what his shoes look like! They are just an object that make him run faster and jump higher, right?
My daughter on the other hand, she has many different kinds of shoes. Her favorite are these blue sparkly ones. Oh, she takes on a whole different personality when she wears them. You would seriously think she is royalty the way she walks, the way she holds herself. Those shoes are taken care of very well because she loves them!
Just as our shoes can describe little bits of our personality, our tongues do as well.
The book of James has much to say about our tongue, either we will let the Holy Spirit control it or it will control us! It can be used to encourage and bless, or it can be used to throw down and crush the spirit of someone else.
I have heard many a time people say, “Well, I just speak my mind! I say what I want to now and then later ask for forgiveness.” Though this may be one persons perception of right, does not make it right. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and if we follow our flesh, of course this is how we will speak. Plus, if what we are about to say we know will later be cause for asking forgiveness, is it the wisest thing to say it to begin with?
Our tongues say a lot about us. What we choose to talk about, or should I say who we choose to talk about, is very revealing about the condition of our hearts. I find it interesting that James describes our tongue as “….full of deadly poison” in chapter 3 verse 8. James also tells us just previously that no man can control his own tongue so if we can’t control our own tongue, it needs to be under the power of the Holy Spirit. Choosing to not allow the Holy Spirit to put a filter over our mouths is choosing to willfully sin. James 4:12, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good (allowing God to filter our speech), and doeth it not (purpose to not allow God to control our tongue), to him it is sin.”
Let me admit that sometimes I can have a difficult time with this as well. I think all of us, if we were honest would own up to that. However, that should not be an excuse to not strive to allow the Holy Spirit to control even our tongues.
A verse that often goes through my head is Proverbs 31:26, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Sometimes, in the midst of even a conversation with others, the Holy Spirit reminds me of this verse. Is what I’m about to say kind? Is it wise to even open my mouth and say anything?
Just as our tongues can be used to harm, they can also be used for much good! Have you ever gone through a difficult day and someone called or stopped by and said just the thing you needed to hear? What they said or wrote to you was just the encouragement you needed to keep plugging forward. Proverbs 25:11 states, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” A word thought out and prayed over can bring so much encouragement to others!
In my own life, I try to purpose to not say something that I will later regret. Sometimes that means I will be silent though my flesh may want to lash out. Stopping and thinking about how those words I may want to say will affect the other persons feelings is what oftentimes stops me. Not to mention the conviction of the Holy Spirit! Though I tend to be quiet by nature I do want James 1:19 to be a constant reminder in my life. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” We have two ears and one mouth on purpose.
Sometimes other people just don’t need to hear us, they want us to hear them! My prayer is that all of us, as Christians especially, would be more hesitant to lash out and more quick to hear. To be willing to listen instead of always sharing our opinions. To be more understanding and compassionate of others feelings and think more of others and less of ourselves.
Life is to short to let our tongue ruin our reputation. Life is to short to allow our tongue to ruin opportunities to witness. Life is just to plain short to not allow God to control our tongue because in and of ourselves we lack the power to do so.
The Lord takes our words seriously. Matthew 12:36-37 is a great reminder that the Lord is listening to all that we say and in the end, He will be the One judging our words.
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
May we all be more swift to hear and slow to speak! A challenge for sure, but one worth taking!