Have you ever been studying something or reading a book and what you were reading just mentally assaulted you? This is what this was like when I first did my study on the subject of the tongue; the speech we should have as Christians. When I read what Scripture has to say about it, I felt crushed. Not that I had a filthy mouth or that I cursed all the time, or even used course language as a practice. Yet, I found myself feeling the conviction over the lack of true holiness I found in my speech.
If you haven't done this kind of study in Scripture yet, I suggest that you take this as a task for the near future. We are told to glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Speech is not excluded from that list. So let's take a quick look at what we are told about speech or the tongue.
For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;” 1 Peter 3:10
Here we see a kind of result before we see the direction on how we are to achieve the end result. We are told to keep our lips from speaking deceitfully and our tongue from evil. That means not gossiping, spreading rumors, thrashing someone with our speech, but speaking with kindness and love. There is so much more to say about this little section but to save time, let’s just say, speak to others how you would like to be spoken to.
In the next verse we see the stark reality of the small possibility of us doing this all the time.
“but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8
It may not be possible for us to tame the tongue fully, but that doesn't mean that we should not work on this minute by minute. This is not a legalistic style of discipline I'm talking about. It's a conscious effort to having a holy speech pattern and way of talking.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
This is a clear direction from the apostle Paul on the manner in which we should be speaking. He tells us what kind of speech we shouldn't have and then encourages us with the type of conversations we should have. It should seem clear at this point, at least I hope it does, that our speech should be clean and uplifting to all those around us. However, it's not just for them but for us as well. I have often encouraged myself— and yes even brought conviction to myself— while speaking to others.
When someone comes to me with a sin they are dealing with or an issue they may have and ask for advice, often I find myself feeling guilty for not following my own advice more than I do. Often we know what the right or good thing to do is and we don’t do it. Be encouraged, though. Even the apostle Paul felt the same about himself.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
Just because this is true for all of us doesn't give us a license to sin, rather, a realization that we will not be free from this fight with our flesh, or sinful nature until we are with the Lord. Also, remember that your words do affect others.
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
So with this I pray that you think of what you say before you speak and I pray the same for myself. There is an old saying and it says this: “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.” We may never completely have control over our speech but may God forbid we ever give up the fight. Bathe yourself in His word and let what is in your heart come out of your mouth and may what be in your heart be His word. Renew yourself in the words of life that are found in Scripture.