Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
How many times have we left a conversation and said to ourselves, “Why did I say that?” I have been guilty too many times for wanting to take words back that already left my mouth. But we can't. In James 3:2 it tells us that only the perfect man will not stumble in what he says and in James 3:8 we are reminded that no human being can tame the tongue.
Our words are powerful and can be so destructive. How can we “bless our Lord” while we “curse people” from the same mouth (James 3:9-10)?
Pause, Think & Pray:
This came from a series of six questions that I have in written in my Bible and I’m not sure where they came from, but they may be a help to you in being prayerful and slow to speak.
- Is this the time to say this?
- Am I the person to say this?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
- Is it true?
- Do I need to say this?
Many times we don’t have to address everything that troubles or annoys us. We need to learn when to let it go and look over an offense.
Think how small these things will seem when you’ve stepped into eternity. Death will quiet us shortly. Let grace quiet us now.
~ Matthew Henry
More Ways to Not Sin With Our Tongues:
- If you have sinned against another with your words make it right. Confess the sin to God and make it right with the one whom you’ve sinned against.
- Many times sinful words start because of bitterness in our hearts. Get rid of bitterness and put off slander and evil speaking.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. ~ Ephesians 4:31
- If it truly is an issue of sin in someone’s life than you talk directly to them and not someone else about them (Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6:1). Make sure you have prayed for them and that your heart’s desire is to see them restored.
- Speak words that are kind, edify and build others up.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
~ Ephesians 4:32
- Our thought life needs to be brought under control by the Spirit. Where would we be without God’s grace and mercy? Pray to see and think about others with the same grace and mercy you have been given.
- I love this one––pretty simple. Talk less.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
~ Proverbs 10:19
- Take the time to pray and think before we speak (see questions above).
- Really work hard at not listening or responding to gossip or slander. Some good questions to be mindful to ask ourselves if we’re the ones about to speak about another person are, “Would I mind if the person I’m talking about were standing right here?” and “Would I be willing to say it to their face?”
- Do our words sound more like Jesus or Satan? Are we spending more time accusing others or advocating for them? We need to use our tongues to minister grace to others.
- Be mindful to offer grace when others sin against us with their words knowing we do the same to them and others.
We may need help in this area and God didn’t intend for us to become mature believers on our own. You may need to find a friend who also struggles in this area and help to keep each other accountable. It may also be wise to find a friend who shows this grace of grace-filled speech and learn from them.
When others are speaking, focus on what they are saying and not what you are going to say next. Be mindful that when we speak less we hear more (we also may sin less when words are few ???? – Proverbs 10:19). Learn to actively and attentively listen to others and keep silent on the inside as well. One of the first places you need to practice good listening and grace-filled speech in your own home.
As we ponder the work the Lord did for us on the Cross so we could have new life and the gift of eternal life, may the words we speak only boast of Him and not of ourselves. When we are reminded how much we have been forgiven, it should be easy to forgive others who sin against us with their words.
“As a result of grace, we have been saved from sin’s penalty. One day we will be saved from sin’s presence. In the meantime we are being saved from sin’s power.”