Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. (James 3:2 NLT)
The Bible goes on to compare the tongue to the tiny rudder on a large ship, able to change the entire course. And to a small spark, able to start a destructive fire.
Mankind has managed to tame all sorts of wild animals – yet we are unable to tame our tongues. (See James 3:7)
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (James 3:9, 10 NIV84)
There are many times I reflect on my day and call to mind times when I said something I wish I could take back. Whether it was joining in on some gossip; letting a swear word slip out; repeating an inappropriate joke; or spewing bitter words in an angry argument.
Sometimes at the very moment the “godless chatter” leaves my lips I’m asking God to forgive me and kicking myself for not thinking before I speak.
The Bible doesn’t sugar coat the sort of trouble our tongue can get us into. God refers to it many times throughout scripture. Here are just some of the verses:
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36, 37 NIV84)
What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ ” (Matthew 15:11 NIV84)
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16 NIV84)
Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23 NLT)
Their own tongues will ruin them, and all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. (Psalms 64:8 NLT)
So what can we do to avoid all of this tongue trouble? Pray! Pray for God to control our tongue…then pause before we speak. Allow God to intervene. Allow him to give us something good to say, or to shut our mouth before our tongue gets us in trouble.