“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” -Blaise Pascal
We’ve all put our foot in our mouth at some point. Careless, unwise, and quickly spoken words can destroy families, churches, and even communities. The tongue is a very small (2 oz) part of our bodies, but can be extremely dangerous and destructive. Our culture has 2 extremes in regards to the tongue…political correctness on one end…and no filter-ness on the other. When we choose our words wisely we find a biblical balance between the two.
A big problem with our tongues is that they are inconsistent. One person prays before a meal and then gossips while they eat. A parent says loving words to a child but uses harsh words with their spouse just moments later. Do you kiss your mom with that mouth? Our tongues aren’t only inconsistent…they are deadly.
James cautions us, in James 3:1-18, to use words of wisdom and gentleness.
James 3:5-6 says, “… the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire.“
The truth is, we can’t control our own tongues. We need the power and wisdom of God in our lives as we face daily relationship challenges. Consider these principles based on what we find in James 3.
- Examine your speech. When it’s not right…repent. Ask God to reveal the outcome of your words, not only what you mean or don’t mean to communicate. Use words that are understanding, pure, build peace, gentle, loving, and full of mercy.
- House Cleaning. Invite God to clean your heart. Ps. 51:15 “O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.” On some level, we all need heart surgery. The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart (Matt:12:24). Ask the good doctor for an examination.
- Switch Seats. James 3:8 says that no person can tame the tongue. The good news is…God, through His Spirit, can! If we switch seats and transfer control to the Holy Spirit, our words filter through Him. The rudder drives the ship, but the captain controls the rudder. When we switch seats…we reflect Him.
When we make the decision to speak words filled with wisdom and gentleness, God is glorified. Three good questions to ask before speaking are…
- Will my words show God’s grace? The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious“ (Ecc. 10:12a).
- Will my words bring healing? The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18b).
- Will my words give life? “Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21a).
Your words have the power to build up or to destroy. It’s our choice. When has your life been changed by wise and gentle words?