Posted July 6, 2017 under Blog

Battleground: The Tongue

This is the last of a three-part series about the real every day battlegrounds that every Christian fights in, whether he or she knows about it or not.

In the past weeks, we’ve established that having a renewed mind and heart are vital to setting our desires, will, emotions, and motivations toward God. The final battlefield is the tongue.

The tongue, as the mind and heart are, holds a lot of power. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” The tongue can either bring healing, or it can crush one’s spirit. It can bring blessing or cursing, encouragement or discouragement. It can be a source of good, or of evil.

There are three truths about the tongue, that we must understand.

1. The tongue has the power to direct our life.

…take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. James 3:4

Just as a huge ship is turned and directed by a tiny rudder, the tongue is also able to direct our lives, and the lives of others, either for the destiny God has for us or for evil.

A single encouragement can motivate a young girl to pursue writing, just as what happened to my wife Marie who grew up hearing her father tell her how good she is with words. That is why he entrusted her to write for him thank-you notes, letters, and invitations.

On the other hand, a single insult can crush a girl’s spirit and lead her to suffer from an eating disorder that would eventually lead to her death. This is what happened to Karen Carpenter, an international hit in the world of music in the 80’s, who happened to read an article that described her as “Richard Carpenter’s chubby sister.”

A single word has the potential to direct our lives and the lives of others. This is why we need to be very selective and deliberative with the words we speak.

2. The tongue reveals what is in our hearts

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1

The tongue is the revealer of our hearts. We can try and hide what’s in them, but the tongue will eventually give us away. God has so designed our tongue that we cannot control it. If our hearts are being renewed and purified, it will show up in our speech. Envy, anger, fear, arrogance, selfishness show up in our conversations. Conversely, love, faith, peace, encouragement, humility will also be heard in the words we speak.

3. The tongue has the power of life and death

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21

The tongue is so powerful that it brings either life or death. Those who love it for good will eat its fruit of goodness; those who love it for bad will be destroyed.

James 3:9 says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, THIS SHOULD NOT BE.” So how do we bridle our tongue?

Below are four questions we need to ask ourselves before we open our mouth.

1. Is it the truth?

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Proverbs 12:19

We filter the words we are about to speak on the basis of its truthfulness, not on whether they are interesting, humorous, juicy, or likable. Before a word comes out, investigate them first. Do not exaggerate nor stretch the truth, and do not be quick to judge others.

2. Is this appropriate?

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23

Gossiping unjustly and unfairly sends information about people who cannot defend themselves. A few things we must take note of. First, never say anything about a person which we cannot say when he’s in front of us. Unless that person is able to respond to what we are about to say, it is better to be quiet.

Second, refuse to listen to someone gossiping. Proverbs 17:4 says, "An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue." We are just as wicked and malicious when we listen to gossip. Simply say you are not interested and they’ll eventually stop.

Lastly, as Matthew 12:36 warns, we will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word we said. We need to decide to stop declaring negative words carelessly.

3. Is it motivating?

The tongue is like a ship’s rudder that sets the direction of our lives, therefore we must choose words that build up. We must speak life and encouragement, especially in times of adversity. If there’s sickness in the family, do not give up declaring healing until healing does come. I remember that I always confessed Numbers 6:24-26 over my sons as they were growing up. I declared these words until I saw their countenance had lifted.

4. Is it essential?

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28

Speak only the words that are absolutely necessary to say.

Finally, James 3: 2 says, “Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” One of the indicators of Christian maturity is not the amount of stuff we know or the teaching we’ve heard, but how much control we have over our tongue. Let’s pray that God would redeem our speech so that our confessions and conversations with people would always honor God.

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