by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward
A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4 NASB
During wartime, soldiers and sailors have to carefully watch what they say. Sometimes what they think are harmless, casual remarks can give the enemy information to use against them. For instance, sailors on shore leave can get too chatty and accidentally spill facts that lead to disastrous results – even the sinking of their ship.
I don’t think I’ve ever said anything to endanger an aircraft carrier, but I know my words have hurt people again and again. The careless words of my mouth have wounded, discouraged, grieved, and angered. My unchecked speech has torn down, set back, and destroyed.
Sometimes I realize what I’ve done even before the last word has stopped its echo. I am witness to their impact. Like a tornado ripping its way through Oklahoma, my words have the power to level. But it’s not man-made structures they demolish. Instead my words rip apart relationships. Fragment fragile hopes. Tear down trust.
And it’s not only our verbal words that have this power. Written words can do the same kind of damage. In fact, we must be even more diligent with things like texts, social media posts, and emails because our intent can be so easily misunderstood.
God does not pull any punches when He talks about the power of our tongues to do evil:
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6 NIV
Serious business isn’t it? And this struggle with our words is universal. Even King David–the “man after God’s own heart”–needed help controlling his tongue.
Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 NIV
Thankfully, we don’t have to let our tongues have the last word. (Yes, pun intended.) Like David, we can ask God to guard our tongue and monitor everything that flows from it. We may struggle to control our speech – both spoken and written—but it’s an easy task for the Holy Spirit!
I have a friend who was known for being outspoken. His words frequently got him into trouble and hurt others. So, he determined to give his speech to God. He calls this spiritual guard over his mouth his “filter.” And he regularly checks in with God to make sure his filter is in good working order.
The Holy Spirit wants to be our “filter.” Let’s allow Him to be the guard over our mouths. Let’s commit to allow everything we say or write to first pass through our Holy Spirit filter. Then our words will be consistently edifying and encouraging. No more verbal destruction. No more sinking ships.
About the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” leads you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.
Join the conversation: How do you keep control of your tongue?