Proverbs 25:11 The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl. NCV
The tongue is the most underestimated source of power in the world. Scripture says that both death and life are in the power of the tongue. (see Pr 18:21) With our tongue we can either build people up or tear them down.
Perhaps James addresses this issue more thoroughly than anyone else in scripture.
James 3:2 We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way. 3 We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself. NLT
First we see that our tongue has the power to control the rest of our being. James compares it to a bit in a horse’s mouth or the rudder on a ship. The tongue can influence how we live, think and act. Secondly, we see that James warns us of the destructive power of the tongue. James tells us that this little part of our body can sometimes be controlled by hell itself and therefore cause great damage. Whereas the right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl; the wrong word spoken at the wrong time can be like throwing gas on a fire.
It was for this reason the psalmist prayed: “Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.” (Ps 141:3 NCV) How can God help us control what we say? I believe that it is a two-step process.
1) We Must Give Diligence to Always Fill Our Hearts and Minds With What is Holy
Matthew 12:34 For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. NLT
It has been my personal experience that if I allow negative and sinful things to linger too long in my mind, they will eventually come out of my mouth. The first step in getting control of our tongue is getting control of our heart and mind.
2) We Must Choose to Submit to the Spirit, Rather Than to the Flesh
Paul tells us: “So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict… But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:16-17, 22-23 NLT)
Imagine if all of our words were flavored with love, joy and peace. What a wonderful thing this would be. It is possible if we choose to yield our tongues to the Spirit and not to the flesh.
May the prayer of the psalmist be the prayer for each of us today:
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)