Sometimes, I suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome–I don’t think before I say something, and I often say something embarrassing or rude, 99% of the time unintentionally, and usually for the sake of a cheap laugh that falls painfully flat. If you’re anything like me and you want to improve your speech–Colossians 3:8 tells us to put away obscene talk, lumping it along with anger, wrath, malice, and slander–then here are ten Bible-based tips that I’m taking seriously in 2015. Let’s do this together! :)
1. Think before we speak. Always easier said than done, but it’s absolutely essential. Proverbs 21:23 says, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” The best way to stop saying embarrassing things is to curb it right before it exits our mouths. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Let’s not be rash; let’s think before we speak.
2. Make it a habit to encourage and not discourage. Ephesians 4:29 says, “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.” Most people who know me know that I’m an encourager–as is expected of a man with a Word of Appreciation love language–yet I can also backstab and backbite with the worst of them. The more we use our tongues for positive things, the less available our mouths will be for negative speech.
3. Pray for your speech. God gives grace to the humble, and power to the powerless. When we start the day and pray for our speech and minds, I believe we set the day right, being conscious of what we do and say. David prayed in Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” And I believe there is power in that prayer. Let’s pray for grace. (1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”)
4. Instead of cuss words and green jokes, let’s cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Ephesians 5:4 tells us, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” I am guilty of this! Both cuss words and green jokes are entirely inappropriate for Christians, not just because the speech isn’t glorifying, but it will lead others to stumble. Matthew 15:10-11 says, “…hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” We shouldn’t lead others into thinking similar thoughts and language. Instead, we could tell people about the great things that are happening in our, and other people’s, lives, giving God the glory and sowing a seed towards the gospel in the future.
5. Try to put away the gossip. 2 Timothy says, “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.” And gossip is topnotch on this list! Instead of giving people updates on the latest showbiz news, why not ask about their day, or give them updates on ours?
6. Instead of lying, move in integrity so you don’t have to. Proverbs 4:24 says, Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” If we move to deceive, it’s often because we’re covering up our tracks. Instead of trying to fool others, wouldn’t it have been better to do the right thing in the first place? Matthew 5:37 says, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. If we want the best for the other person, we would give them an answer that they deserve to have, and that’s the truth.
7. Surround yourself with the right things. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Back in the day, I used to watch a lot of standup comedy that was full of bad language. Naturally, I took it in! Now, I listen to a lot more wholesome humor so I don’t use the language I hear from those videos. I also read my Bible daily to ensure my thoughts are constantly renewed by the Word of God. We would do well to at least filter our some of the language we hear so we don’t get influenced by or ending up using it. (Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”)
8. Instead of arguing, cultivate a humble heart. Psalm 34:13-4 says, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” I often get into arguments with people because I don’t want to lose the argument, but this needs to change. A humble heart will always want the best for the other person. If we are in the wrong, we apologize; if we are in the right, we give the other person the opportunity to say his or her piece and don’t gloat when we’re proven correct.
9. Remember you are an ambassador of Christ. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Regardless of our age, Christians are ambassadors of Christ, and we would do well to remember that we represent God. Let us conduct ourselves in a manner that befits our status as children of God. Titus 2:6b-8 says, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
10. Seek a relationship with Jesus. Matthew 12:37 says, “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” If our hearts are full of evil, our mouths will reflect it; the ultimate base of this verse is, “when you are evil?” The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. While I still do struggle with my speech on occasion, I rest confident because I know that there is grace, an abundance of forgiveness, and second chances all around, because I have a relationship with Jesus. I know that He has worked such grace in my life and helped me overcome so many things. You can experience that, too. If you’d like to know more about what my life was like before and after I began a relationship with Jesus, please click here.