Thoughts spoken are public knowledge. Let’s make sure what we say honors the LORD and won’t come back to bite us.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
Many of the things we think simply don’t need to be said. If we don’t say it, we cannot be held accountable for it. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Not that not saying ANYTHING is best. “The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” – Robert Louis Stevenson. Timing is important, too. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11.
The chapter ends with some very sage advice:
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
So, how do we master our speech? James says that we NEVER will, that it will ALWAYS be a source of evil and trouble:
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:6-8
Why? Because our thoughts naturally tend toward selfish, uncontrolled, rebellious, deceitful, inappropriate, addictive–sinful thoughts. Christ deals with us in our hearts concerning these things, but when we speak them, we cause all kinds of problems! Our words become concrete to us and poisoned arrows to others.
How? How do we keep from sinning with our mouths? How do we become godly talkers?
- Use words with restraint. Don’t rush into a conversation with others. Stop and evaluate EVERY WORD that comes to mind.
- Be having a conversation with the Spirit at the same time that you are having a conversation with someone else. If you are in contact with Him, then you stand a good chance of catching errant words BEFORE they leave your lips.
- If it’s a serious conversation, bathe it in prayer before having it. Think about what needs to be said and craft a rough draft either in your mind or on paper. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation.
- If you’re conversing with a friend (or friends), just remember to:
- Keep it friendly; no confrontational statements (don’t pick a fight).
- Stay away from derogatory comments even in jest. They always have a barb on the end.
- Stay FAR away from sexual comments of any kind. Even stay away from body parts. Our minds just don’t need to go there.
- A great verse to use as a guide is Ephesians 5:4, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Let’s lift each other up with encouraging words!
There is one more warning I want to give: IF IT IS IN PRINT, BEWARE!!! In fact, try not to say private things in a text or email. They have a tendency to not stay private. If we live with the attitude that they WON’T, then we will always be SAFE.
Are you scared, yet? We ought to be!!! But, be encouraged: One of these days, we won’t have to worry about what will come out of our mouths because we will be glorified and will not have to fight sinful thoughts anymore. Won’t that be GRAND?! Until then, we had better implement these verses:
1 I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked [anybody].” Psalm 39:1
3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds [conversations] along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. Psalm 141:3-4
Abba, I know that controlling my tongue begins with controlling my thoughts. The ONLY way I know to do that is to replace them with Your thoughts. I find those in the Bible and in prayer. May I linger long in Your Word and may I have a running conversation with You all day today. Please don’t let me “set anything on fire” today! Counting on You, amen.
Addendum: I do the most damage when my blood sugar is low. If I feel that I am in such a state, I quickly eat something and give it a minute to take effect. Robin usually pops something in my mouth the moment I come through the door on Sunday mornings after church because I’m drained and famished. She is a lifesaver! My children and grandchildren rise up and call her blessed. 🙂