My tongue is an unmanageable adversary, giving me the mightiest of fits in the battle for control. Even James 3:8 clearly establishes the challenge before us: “No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Yet, I believe God’s word that I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me (Romans 8:37), so I press on in His grace! For His glory. That what He does in me may be evidence of Him. Lord, send Your Holy Spirit to empower us to do what Your word counsels us with regards to our tongues.
Here are the remaining “Ten Steps to a Tame Tongue.”
6. Trust God, and be honest.
This cuts to the core. Gossip can result when we don’t trust God. When we don’t want to do hard things because we fear people. When we don’t believe His word. When we despise God, not with our intentions, but with our actions. He truly is all we need. Psalm 118:8 stresses, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in a man.” When we believe He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, we can trust Him. And when we trust Him, we can deal honestly with others. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). When we do, we can do No. 7.
7. Do hard things.
Have hard conversations. Go to the source of the information or offense. When God told Samuel the judgment that was coming upon Eli and his sons because Eli didn’t discipline them, Eli didn’t go and discuss it with friends and colleagues. He didn’t share it as a prayer request. He didn’t seek the advice of others. He went directly to Eli and told him exactly what God said (I Samuel 3:8-18). When the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin with Bathsheba, Nathan didn’t first talk to all his friends or other profits to see what they thought. He didn’t ask for prayer as a cover for gossip. He went directly to David. We need to do the same thing. I realize we’re not prophets delivering a word from God, but we do receive instruction directly from God’s mouth – all scripture is God breathed (from the Greek meaning of 2 Timothy 3:16) – and we are equally as wise to take God’s word directly to heart, and take information directly to the source. When you do, be sure you take the time to let your emotions settle first. Highly charged confrontations rarely end well. Proverbs 16:32 explains, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
8. Choose counsel carefully.
Sometimes, we will need to talk a situation through with someone else. Just as fear and pride can be the root of gossip, they can distort how we see things. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to help us see our fear and pride, as Proverbs 13:10 explains, “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.” Well-advised being the key. If we do seek the counsel of others, which is biblical, we must be cautious and particular. Is the counsel going to be godly? Is the person going to consult scripture when offering advice? Are they going to pray? Is the person prone to high emotions and knee-jerk reactions? Does the person tend to have a loose tongue? Proverbs 20:19 warns us, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.” If someone talks to you about others, you can be sure they will talk to others about you. A good first choice is your pastor or someone in a trusted position of leadership in your church. Be extra careful when sharing things with family that will affect the way they may treat the person who is the focus of what you share, especially if you’re struggling with your spouse and what you say may affect how family treats him or her.
9. Share sparingly.
If it does become necessary to seek godly counsel, many times, details aren’t necessary. Share as generically as you possibly can to get the help you need, and then say no more. Stick to the facts and try to remove your emotions and opinions.
10. Remember, love covers all sins (Proverbs 10:12).
“He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9). This is where the rubber meets the road. God’s love for us through His son Jesus, when we are saved by grace through faith, covers all our sins. If we have received that love and forgiveness, who are we to hold anything against another? The first and greatest commandment is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37), and the second is to “love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:39). Neighbor in this case is any other person! By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to extend God’s love to every other person around us, no matter who they are and what they’ve done. According to I Corinthians 13:4-8, this means we suffer long and are kind. We do not envy or parade ourselves. We are not puffed up, do not behave rudely, and do not seek our own. We are not provoked, and think no evil. We do not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoice in the truth. We bear all things, believe all things (as in the best in others, not the worst), hope all things, and endure all things. This kind of love never fails. It is the love of Christ. In Christ, it is ours to give.
I pray we will love and let the Holy Spirit convict.
Let us “put away perversity from your mouth, (and) keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (Proverbs 4:24, NIV), for “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known” (Proverbs 10:9).
Lord, my prayer for myself and those reading this blog today is Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” By the power of Your Holy Spirit, equip us to guard our mouths and tongues that we might keep our souls from trouble as we become more wholly Yours today.