Thursday, December 10, 2009

Controlling the tongue

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 
-Proverbs 31:26

Last night the ladies at our church met for our monthly Bible study, and the topic of discussion was the tongue. I found the study very encouraging; it definitely gave me a lot to think about. Scripture speaks time and time again about the importance of taming our tongue, speaking wisely, edifying our hearers. Clearly, it is very important. I wanted to share with you some of the points we covered so you could benefit from them like I did. One of our elder's wives led the study, and my notes are partly taken from the handout she brought.

It is important to keep in mind that the spoken word often carries more weight than the written word, and it is very easy to abuse. I know it is very easy for me to speak before I think biblically about what I should say, and unfortunately, my sweet husband is the recipient of most of my speaking-before-I-think. I shouldn't speak rashly to anyone, but Scripture specifically calls me to reverence him and honor him, and this is certainly an area I could use some improvement in. Romans 6 says we need to bring all our members in subjection to Christ, and the tongue is certainly included in this. 

There are several things we must avoid in our speech. 
One is untruthfulness. Proverbs 12:22 says lying is an abomination. This is a very strong word. One of the worst forms of lying is lying about our neighbor to hurt him, and benefit ourselves. However, even "little white lies" that can be so easy to tell, and seem inconsequential, are dishonoring to the Lord.

We must also avoid gossip and slander. This is especially a problem for women. So often, we begin by discussing things going on in our lives, and end up talking about someone in a bad light. In our pride, we enjoy sharing things about someone that make them look bad. Something to point out is that something does not have to be untrue to be gossip. Speaking poorly of someone unnecessarily falls under this category. Slander is when you lie about someone. Both gossip and slander are not only sin for us, but can (and often do) lead the hearers into sin as well. 

How should our speech look, then?
For one, we must speak with wisdom. If we look at Proverbs 31:26, we see that a wise woman speaks wisely and kindly. This is, she applies wisdom to her speech. When others ask her for counsel, she responds giving them biblically sound advice. She does not speak rashly, but conforms her speech to Scripture.

We must also speak with discretion and humility. Proberbs 10:19 says that a soft answer turns away wrath, but if we answer harshly, it provokes the person we are responding to. This is true in all situations, but specifically in relating to your husband. If he makes a decision you think is not a good idea, the best response is NOT a quick, rash reponse, giving him a piece of your mind. (Ask me how I know!) The best way to go about it is to search the Scriptures, pray, and answer him softly. And, as long as it's not sin, purpose to submit to what he decides without nagging.

Lastly, we must speak with patience and peace. Provers 25:24 says, "It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house." This literally means it is better to spend your entire life in a tiny confine alone than with a contentious woman in a palace. Keep this in mind in your interactions, especially with your husband. 

The tongue is certainly hard to tame, but by God's grace, it can be done. We must rely on Him constantly and saturate our minds in His Word that we might honor Him in all we do.


  1. Mary Jo: Great work on the study "Taming the tongue". Thank you for sharing. Love, Mom

  2. Good word, Mary Jo. Jesus is helping me to consider how I might exalt the beauty of Christ & His goodness & grace when I am preparing to speak. I see a lot of ugly, mean, cruel, wicked, sinful things & it is a challenge to know how to redeem the moment & the situation to give the Lord the praise He is due. There is so much to rejoice over ... I am eager to find whatsoever is good, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is noble, to speak of rather than whatever is wrong & wicked in the world.