“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” James 1:26 (NLT)
Before boxers begin to fight, a referee enters the ring and establishes the ground rules. After a clear understanding of what is not allowed, the fighters put in an essential piece of equipment – a mouth guard. If we are to reach a deeper connection out of our conflicts with one another, we need to insert a mouth guard as well. The Bible warns us about the abuse of our own tongue. In fact, in Proverbs, the Bible says that the tongue has the power of life and death! Someone once said, “A sharp tongue can cut your own throat.”
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words.” Proverbs 18:21 (GW)
Have you ever had to eat your own words because your tongue got you into trouble? It can taste awfully bitter! If you want to avoid your next slice of “humble pie”, here are six ground rules for the tongue when in conflict with others. I call them What Not To Do in a Fight:
Don’t attack the person; attack the issue.
Don’t compare. It’s unfair to compare. Learn to embrace your differences. We are all uniquely made. God didn’t make you or your partner to be someone else.
Don’t act spiritually proud. Anger is not a sin. It simply means you care enough to confront. Be human. Even Jesus got angry.
Don’t sulk or pout. These are the people who clam up and become passive aggressive after they tap out.
Don’t threaten. Quit using verbal threats like divorce, or the extreme exaggerations of always or never.
Don’t gossip. Take your conflict to the one you are in conflict with and not to others. Gossips are those fighters who “float like a butterfly, but sting like a bee!”
These six ground rules will save us from losing what we value the most – the relationship. The truth is that none of us can control our tongue, but we can give our lives to God’s care and control. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit who comes to indwell us when we give our lives to His care and control. Let Him be the referee in the ring. With His help, you can reach connection out of conflict and win the relationship!