We’ve all been there: we’re having a terrific conversation with friends or family, when suddenly the topic turns to an unpleasant one that polarizes and divides the group into two very passionate camps. Instead of trying to steer the focus of the discussion to more neutral ground, or at least agreeing to disagree, we all plunge into the melee, and often end up saying something that offends someone else.
Relationships have been ruined over discussions. Lives have ended over the drinking table and a discussion over which politician is cleaner, which movie is better, or which starlet has better… um… assets.
One of my personal goals for 2010 is to watch my tongue. Many
wannabe funnymen often say something, while “on a roll” of jokes, that offends one or many of her/his listeners. It’s a dangerous thing, and as Christians, who are called to be ambassadors of Christ and models of virtuous living, well, a slanderous comment or a pithy putdown can be a dangerous thing.
I’ve tried many times in the past to “tame the tongue,” and, you know what? Everything has failed. It’s pretty easy to see why this is so. I’ve always relied on myself, and I can’t trust myself enough to resist the lure of a good green joke, of a delightful put-down (especially when it comes from a favorite whipping boy, like my friend Gabby V), or of a snarky, sarcastic comment the objective of which is to lighten the mood but instead increases the tension of a meeting or lunchtime tete-a-tete.
We all can’t trust ourselves.
This is why it’s good to have God on our side, yesz. Proverbs 2:6-7 tells us, “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.” (NLT) God gives common sense! You’d think we would be able to resist saying something to offend simply because it makes sense to resist. But, no, we wanna be quick wits. We wanna be the focus of attention, and we want our joke, our conversation, ourselves, to be the memory people take home with them from that party, that meeting, that lunchtime discussion. We need to be humble and honest with ourselves and others. Think about that.
Proverbs 2:11 further adds, “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” (NIV) It’s right there: God grants discretion. He will let you know when to talk and when not to talk, and His understanding will ensure that you will always have the right things to say. As we grow closer to God, we engage in conversations with the Holy Spirit, and He always, always helps us discern the right thing to do in any situation. If we allow Him to.
Only God can help us tame our tongues, and He can do this only with our cooperation. Yessir, we need to arm ourselves with His Word, so we can remind ourselves during those weak points in time, of His promises when we follow His ways, and of the consequences when we drift from His path and say whatever is on our minds. When we fill our minds with God’s promises, we leave less space for less important things – temptation and lack of self-control among them – to inhabit.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” My prayer for us is that 2010 is going to be the year when we finally overcome the temptations of the tongue with God’s help. This year, we can stop becoming sarcastic commentators, gossip- and rumormongers, naysayers and negative ninnies, you get the idea. This year, we breathe and speak life with the power of our tongues. Let’s build people up instead of taking them down, shall we? Conversations and meetings are only bound to get less stressful, and we’ll all sleep better at night.
Today’s memory Bible verses for wise speech and taming the tongue: Proverbs 18:21, Prov 2:6, Prov 2:11
Image taken from Brandon Hays.