Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Taming the Tongue

What do our words say about us?

This question was heavy on my heart the other day as I realized that my reactions to certain people or situations were obviously not lining up with the "loving character of God" I proclaimed each day.  I got so frustrated with myself!  I thought, "What is wrong with me that I cannot translate the Word I read into my actions/words?".  Thank the Lord His grace is sufficient for our weaknesses, that His love covers over a multitude of sins.  But it continued to nag on my mind...

...then this morning, I opened to Proverbs 15 (I have been trying to read through "a Proverb a day", according to the calendar date--I recommend it!).  This chapter of Proverbs, I noticed, repeated the importance of our words numerous times:

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
(Proverbs 15:1-2 ESV)

A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
(Proverbs 15:4 ESV)

The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the hearts of fools.
(Proverbs 15:7 ESV)

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
(Proverbs 15:18 ESV)

To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!
(Proverbs 15:23 ESV)

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD,
but gracious words are pure.
(Proverbs 15:26 ESV)

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
(Proverbs 15:28 ESV)

Do you think Proverbs 15 is trying to tell us something important?  When I read over all these verses, I cannot believe how prevalent are the musings of the tongue, the impact of our words, and the motivators behind each thought that is spoken.  According to these verses, the spoken word can be, at its very best and most blessed:  full of knowledge, a tree of life, slow to anger, peaceable, appropriate and timely, encouraging, full of good news, pure, gracious, discerning, thoughtful, considerate, and righteous.  That's a long, wonderful list of qualities!

What have you learned about the effects of the tongue?  Can you think of a situation when your words were sweet and edifying, or oppositely discouraging and full of strife?  


  1. I can definitely think of a time my tongue was edifying, and I can more memorably remember my tongue being an awful horrible dagger that cut so deep. We don't ever truly realize the effects our words have on the ears they fall upon- whether good OR bad. We definitely need to pay more attention to stop when need be or recognize the situations in which sweet words will pour like honey!

  2. One thing I've been learning as I being my professional career is that the tongue is often what can set us apart in the workplace. Especially in the world of politics, my current profession, sarcasm and cynicism abound. I have found myself falling into those patterns at times, and am striving to be set apart from them, although the tongue is difficult to tame. It seems that when we are kind in all of our words in the workplace and elsewhere, people really do take note, which can open doors for great conversations.


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