The ability to master our mouths, watch our words and tame our tongues demonstrates a level of spiritual and emotional maturity. The opposite is true as well. An inability to control our speech shows immaturity, and it can inflict great harm on our relationships. The relationship I have with my kids is one example. When things are good we can laugh and play and have a good time. But when I come home from work and the house is a mess, thats a different story. There are dishes still in the sink and no one has even though about cleaning up after themselves. Grades in school are falling and noone cares. Heavens forbit that someone thought about taking the trash out. As a single parent at times we just want to pull our hair out due to all the frustration. Believe me the boiling point at that point has been reached . How do we all deal with this without saying the wrong things? Its so easy to say just about anything out of anger.
Solomon addresses the importance of controlling our words by contrasting positive and negative speech. In each case, the effects end up as opposites: peacefulness or wrath, knowledge or folly, healing or a crushed spirit. In other words, when we fail to control our tongue, we don’t just fail to give, or be, a blessing. We also cause a wound that can rupture a relationship.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Words That Hurt, Words That Heal, states that he asks audiences whether they can go 24 hours without saying any unkind words about or to anyone. Invariably, a few people answer “yes,” but most call out “no!” He responds, “Those who can’t answer ‘yes’ have a serious problem. If you can’t go 24 hours without drinking liquor, you’re addicted to alcohol. If you can’t last 24 hours without smoking, you’re addicted to nicotine. And if you can’t make it 24 hours without saying unkind words about others, you’ve lost control of your tongue.”
How can you tell whether your tongue is under control? You won’t say anything about an individual that you can’t say directly to that person. You resist the urge to exaggerate. You consciously examine your thoughts and remove gossip and rumors from your conversations. You keep in confidence a personal matter that someone else shares with you. Further, you learn to speak positive words. Appropriate words communicate affirmation, comfort and healing.
When was the last time you said something to another person that you instantly regretted? Maybe it was something intended as a joke that was instead taken as an offense, or perhaps it was a sharp word spoken in anger that you wish you could have taken back. Think of a specific situation, and then challenge yourself to rectify the hurt. While you may not be able to take back the words themselves, you can humbly submit yourself to that person and begin to rebuild the relationship.
Love thy brother as you love yourself!
Recommended Reading: Psalm 34:13–14; James 3:9-12
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.