Tongue Taming

When I was growing up as a child, I remember the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” “Sticks and Stones” is a children’s rhyme and it persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured.

Really? Did that work when you were a kid? We may have said this rhyme to others but did we truly believe it? Saying this rhyme to someone calling us names may have made us feel a little better… for the moment…but the reality was that names did hurt…and may still hurt!

I would have to say that I disagree with this rhyme…I wish names would never hurt me! And plus, coming from a background in anatomy and understanding bone injuries, bones heal…hurtful words may or may not! Not only can words hurt, they can be damaging…even for a lifetime!

Were you called names as a child? Were negative words spoken to you as a child? How did you respond?

Maybe you were the name caller…

When I was in high school, I had a real pretty friend who was a ballet dancer. She loved dancing and had begun at a young age. At this young age, she was also told that she looked fat in her leotard and she needed to watch what she ate. All through high school she battled with anorexia and bulimia. There were times she looked so thin that I was afraid for her health…and really her life.

Having studied and worked with many female athletes in my previous occupation, I have come to understand the seriousness of eating disorders and the serious health conditions that can develop from this disease…including death.

The words that we speak to one another are so important to consider…not just as a child growing up …but also as adults and throughout our entire lifetime. Spoken words can bring either life or death…literally! And we can see the effects of the modern day example of this in the rise in childhood bullying that has become even more prevalent through our social media.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 NIV

Whether we are speaking to our husbands, children, friends, family members, co-workers and even strangers, our words are so important!

Statistics say that the average person spends one-fifth of his/her life talking. If all of our words were put into print, the result? … A single day’s words would fill a 50 page book, while in a year’s time, the average person’s words would fill 132 books of 200 pages each!

That’s crazy! And you and I know perfectly well, that as women we are not the average person when it comes to chatting! Among all those words, we are bound to speak some words in anger, carelessness, and haste!

As Christians, getting our tongues under control is a very important task and one of the most difficult to master. Whether we gossip (and let’s be real and not hind behind our Christian umbrella…we do gossip!), speak reckless and careless words, speak lies and even flattery…God wants us to control our tongues!

Gossip A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. Proverbs 20:19 NIV

Recklessness The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 NIV

Carelessness   I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt 12:36-37 ESV

Lies There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue… Proverbs 6:16-17 NIV

Flattery Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. Proverbs 28:23 NIV

As we can see, all the scriptures above are from the book of Proverbs. I just love the book of Proverbs! The purpose of this book is to help us apply divine wisdom to daily life and to provide moral instruction.

The bible speaks about our tongues also in James 3:3-12. I thought The Message translation stated these scriptures in an interesting way.

3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

So how can we “tame” our tongues?  The word tame is defined “to make docile or submissive, to conquer or bring under control, to subdue”

How can we bring our tongues under control?

1)      Realize that we are accountable to God for our words.

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 ESV

2)      Fill our hearts with God’s word

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NLT

…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. Matthew 12:34-35 NLT

3)      Listen before you speak.

Have you ever already decided your response to someone before they have finished talking? (My husband would say I totally do this…and he is right!) If we would listen before speaking, we would be more careful with our responses and words.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry… James 1:19 NIV

 4)      T.H.I.N.K before you speak.

If we would just think before we speak, we would speak words of grace and life! I have learned to try and pause for a moment before responding to help me from being careless with my words…especially in situations where I feel anger rising up in me or my emotions are high.

            T– Is it True?

            H Is it Helpful?

            I-Is it Inspiring?

            N– Is it Necessary?

            K– Is it Kind?

 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6 NASB

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.    Proverbs 18:21 NIV

When we realize the long term negative effects of the careless or hurtful words we speak, we can see why God is clear about holding us accountable for our words. It certainly isn’t easy for some us to tame our tongues, but God wouldn’t expect something from us without equipping us and giving us the power the strength to succeed. And on top of that, His power is made perfect in our weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9) Along with our reliance on God, it may take a willing and conscious effort on our part…but it is possible for us to tame our tongues!

Reflection Points:

1)      Were hurtful or negative words spoken to you as a child? Are you still carrying the hurt as an adult?

2)      Do you believe your overall speech…words to others are positive and encouraging or more negative and discouraging on a daily basis?

3)      Do you need to work on your words with specific people in your life? ie. husband, children, family members…

4)      How can you begin to “tame” your tongue with these people?

Action Points:

1)      Realize the importance of the words we speak. Understand what the bible says about taming our tongues. Look over the scriptures that discuss gossip, recklessness, carelessness, lies, and flattery when it comes to our spoken words.

2)      Begin to follow the steps outlined above to help you speak words of life vs. words of death.

3)      Pause and T.H.I.N.K before you speak. This will help you from speaking out of anger or high emotions.

2 thoughts on “Tongue Taming

  1. Love T.H.I.N.K. – great way to remember to stop before speaking!
    I love the saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we can do twice as much listening!

    Great word Taleen – we all need to practice!

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