“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19, NIV).
It’s interesting to realize that there are over 85 references to the tongue, lips, and mouth in the Book of Proverbs. It seems that the inspired writings of Solomon and others are zeroing in on a major stumbling block in the lives of God’s people. The message of the whole could very well be summed up in the idea that the more we talk, the more we are prone to get into trouble (Proverbs 10:19). Obviously, a talking fast would be of great benefit to us all.
The time to consider your words is before you speak, not after you have allowed them to fly in a fit of frustration, anger, or intrigue. We all know the thud of regret when we realize that something less than Christlike speech has come out of our mouths in content or tone. It is better to put down your bow and arrow than to release the arrow into the air and only then give thought as to its target and impact. Like arrows spent, our words, once released, cannot be recalled so we must be more mindful of their use.
James taught that the path to mature Christian living is the domination and control of the tongue. A man who has learned to bridle the tongue (the hardest thing in the world to do) can find success in every area of Christian living (James 3). He also taught that man could not tame the tongue through natural power. This means we must employ our God-given arsenal in curbing this “restless evil.”
Consider these powerful tools for controlling the tongue:
Speak the Word
It is impossible to speak the Word of God and things that are ungodly, inappropriate, non-edifying, or just plain unprofitable at the same time. The Scripture teaches the key to constantly speaking the Word is the filling of the heart with the Word of God (Matthew 12:33) for “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (or as I like to say, if you open your mouth your heart will fall out). Deliberately and consciously speaking the exhortations, promises, and commands of Scripture throughout the day will serve as a bridle curbing the propensity to use the mouth destructively.
Speak Praises to God
Praise is not the hidden adoration of God in the heart. Praise is vocal adoration – that is we declare in our native tongue the glory and majesty of God. James pointed out that it is unnatural to bless the Lord while we curse men made in his image. By concentrating on praising God on purpose, we position ourselves to let the high praises of God be in our mouths and a two-edged sword in our hands (Psalm 149:6). As we sow seeds of praise we develop the habit of blessing rather than cursing.
Pray in the Spirit
The Spirit-filled believer is blessed with an extremely potent weapon – the ability to speak in a heavenly language or tongues. Nothing causes religious dander to rise faster than just the mere mention of tongues but that is because of Satan’s total hatred of the spiritual practice. He attacks with venom those disciplines and weapons that are most damaging to him. When the believer speaks in tongues he or she is praying the perfect will of God without the limitations of the filter of the mind tainting the prayer with doubt, fear, or unbelief. It’s an amazing thing to realize that every syllable uttered in tongues comes to pass. No wonder the enemy of our souls loves to marginalize those that practice the gift as crazy while he tries to convince Bible believers that the practice has passed away. Go ahead and pray every day in the Spirit and you will effectively control the tongue, edify yourself, and drive the Devil nuts!
Since duct tape, zippers, crazy glue, are not really practical deterrents to destructive speech, let’s decide every day to employ the spiritual tools at our disposal like speaking the Word, praising God, and praying in the Spirit. You will sleep much better at night knowing that today you did not launch any stray and unaccounted for arrows with your mouth.