“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.”
James 3:7-10 (NLT)
Proverbs says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) Words can heal and words hurt. What we say probably affects people more than anything else we do. Without even trying, you can probably remember the words that were said to you that encouraged you and those that still sting. We all struggle with trying to tame our tongue. Even Christ followers in the Bible were told, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT) The Bible describes four common types of speech. Two are positive and should be put into practice while the other two need to be avoided. I found these four while reading through the Book of Proverbs, and it challenged me to consider how I use my tongue.
- The Controlled Tongue – None of us can tame the tongue much less control our lives. We can, however, put our lives under God’s control. As we yield our lives to God’s control, our speech is filtered with the awareness that God hears and will instruct us in what to say, when to say it and when to remain silent. Jesus said, “I don’t speak on My own authority. The Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it.” John 12:49 (NLT)
- The Caring Tongue – Think of the words that have healed the wounds of your heart. Speak the truth in love, and God will use your words to encourage others. Let them come from your heart, and they will reach a heart.
- The Conniving Tongue – You could also call this one the silver tongue or the forked tongue. It uses words to manipulate, gossip, slander and twist the truth for personal gain.
- The Careless Tongue – This is the sharp tongue that is quick to cut others down. It’s destructive and belittling.
No human being can tame the tongue because our words are an expression of what’s in our hearts, and no one can change the heart but Christ. Listen to the words you say. It will reveal the condition of your heart. When you give Christ your heart, He will tame your tongue.