Monday, August 8, 2011

Taming the Tongue

I read once, in a Joyce Meyer devotional, that most of our spiritual problems occurs from the shoulders up. Our minds can lead to trouble, but perhaps they may be a mere starting point for the drama and the messes in our lives. I believe that the most common way for the mind's junk to make it's way out is through the tongue. Think about it--the stuff in your head is going to come out, therefore you have to choose the thoughts that occupy the space between your ears more carefully.

My tongue is indeed my biggest problem. Many times, I talk without thinking. I say things that I wish I hadn't and I wind up feeling like a jerk for it. I also say things that cause confusion and hurt. After it's all said and done, I realize that I didn't put enough thought into my words because I was in a big hurry to say what I thought--mostly because getting it off my chest simply makes me feel better. In my own relationships, I realize that I've said some things that haven't been so nice. I'm convicted that this tongue of mine needs a leash.

Even when I am justified (in man's terms) to voice my hurt, and say what's on my mind I wind up saying enough to expose my filthy heart. The bad thing is that you always wind up making a complete fool of yourself when you allow your words too go to far. You either hurt the one's you love or you hand your emotions over on a silver platter to your enemies.

In the Bible, there are many references to the tongue. I've noted a few of the obvious ones below.
 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
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
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21
We've all been hurt by someone else's words. I for one, struggle to believe that those who hurt me truly mean well. I find myself doubting that he or she truly meant the apology, if I was offered one. I guard my heart from that person because now there is a trust issue. I also find that I add one more insecurity to my already large collection. It's amazing how a few little words can turn my world and my heart upside down.

As I age, I can't help but relate my own pain to the hurt I've caused others. So much of what we say is spoken in anger, or from some type of carelessness. I've spoken a lot of things out of anger or mere hurry. Perhaps many of us justify our razor sharp words by labeling them as "the truth." Granted that the truth hurts, if we truly seek to honor God, each of us can choose our words and our tone quite carefully. I might challenge you to consider that if you don't hurt right along with the person to whom you're speaking the truth, chances are you didn't need to say it. A person who cares will be far more well received than someone who doesn't. If you attempt to speak the truth without showing compassion, you create distance. That distance just might show up their spiritual lives. Can you live knowing you pushed someone from God?

I used to think that it is okay to think about things as long as you don't vocalize them. But I've learned that if you let something stay in your head it WILL make it's way out. The stuff in your head will eventually be uncovered and when it is, how will you feel? Will you be embarrassed? Will you feel proud? Will it hurt someone? Or will it expose you by what you really are? If you don't want your thoughts to surface, stop thinking about them!

We can't ever really take our words back. Our tongue's don't have a "Recall" option like email does. If God intended for us to let our tongues run loose, He would have put that "Recall" button someplace with quick and easy access-- like on our foreheads. Sure, we can apologize, but think about how often you've struggled even after someone has offered you an apology. The hurt from words has a lasting consequence to us and those we love. We're all guilty of letting our mouth get the best of us. We've got to remember that words can hurt or words can build someone up.

When you die, would you want people to celebrate you because your words were always encouraging? Or would you rather have people use your funeral as a counseling session due to the pain you've caused?

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