As we apply the antidotes for Loose Tongue Syndrome, what do we do when we’re genuinely struggling in a circumstance or a relationship? What do we do when we’re not sure what to do or what to say, yet we genuinely desire to handle things God’s way? Is it okay to seek counsel from a godly friend? Is there any room to talk about it with others who can help us work it out? When is it okay? When does it cross the line?
As we saw Thursday, the second half of Proverbs 11:2 tells us: “But with the humble is wisdom.” When we are modest, reserved, and unassuming – submitted to God, His will, and His ways – we will have the discretion we need to cautiously handle the practical matters of life and relationships.
“That’s all fine and good, Shauna,” you might say. “But what do we DO?!?!?!” Pain is a motivator, and in the weeks following the incident with my family, I talked with God… a lot. I prayed…a lot. I asked God for answers. For specific scriptures. Jotting His answers down, I ended up with “Ten Steps to a Tame Tongue.” It’s sort of like a self-improvement program for the tongue. It’s truth He is instilling in my heart so it will affect my lips. I pray it is a help to you as well.
Here are the first five.
1. Go to God first.
So many times, when we’re hurt, angry, or perplexed, or even just opinionated about something we’ve heard or learned about another person, the first thing we grab is the phone. If you’re like me, you call the person who will tell you what you want to hear at the moment. We might call any number of people before the thought occurs to talk to God about it, yet He’s the FIRST person we should contact! If we feel the need to gossip, let’s take it to the Lord first, and ask Him about it, following His wisdom in Proverbs 11:13: “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” My first response needs to be to conceal not reveal. When I need to talk, I need to talk to God. If I need to vent, I need to vent to Him first.
2. Grab the word, instead of the phone.
Find out what scripture says about what troubles you. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” He will light the way as we hold up His word to the things with which we struggle. Use your Bible’s concordance or an online resources like www.blueletterbible.com or www.biblegateway.com to search for verses that can give you the direction you seek. Ask others which scriptures help them in similar relationships and circumstances (see No. 8 and 9 first; coming Thursday).
3. Get to the heart of the matter.
Ask yourself: Why am I so upset? Why am I feeling compelled to talk? Taking my eyes off everyone else involved, what is it in me that is reacting so strongly to what’s happened, is happening, or has been reported to me? Is pride rearing its ugly head? Am I afraid? Fear is a terrible distorter. So is pride. Am I hurt? Am I offended? If yes, why? Do I have a right to be hurt or offended? Do I need to reexamine for pride? Am I judging someone? I find writing things out really helps me process and see inside. I like to write in my journal as if it’s a letter to God. Talking directly to Him. Physically seeing my words expose my heart. Pray before you do, and ask the Lord to search your heart, to test it, and to reveal any wicked ways that He may also lead you in the way everlasting. Proverbs 20:27 tells us, “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart.” He sees, and He will answer the sincere cry of your heart for His truth. His help. His deliverance.
4. Consider the hidden.
John 7:24 tells us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Is there something more than meets the eye? If we look beneath behavior with a heart of compassion, we might find a compelling reason for offense. I hate it when I criticize someone else, what they’ve said or done, only to find out they’ve been through something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and their behavior is simply an expression of deep, tragic hurt. Not to excuse wrong behavior. But that we can have compassion for others. That we might be slow to anger and abounding in love, just like our heavenly Father is with us. Full of grace.
Proverbs 18:17 cautions, “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” When someone shares information about another person or situation, remember, there’s always more than one side. As a mom, we face this reality every day, and most days, many times over! If we react without due diligence, we are likely to be the ones shouldering regret. Go to the source (see No. 7 Thursday). Get the whole story. Be sure that if you do take action, it is based on the facts and not on one skewed version, no matter how convincing it might be.
In the interest of keeping things short, I’ll share the remaining five steps Thursday. In the meantime, I pray the Lord will take the time in between to let His word sink deep in our hearts. To the place where it changes how we think and what we do.
Lord, as You promised Your people in Ezekiel 36:26-27, give us new hearts and put Your spirit within us. Take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. May Your Spirit move in us to walk in Your ways and obey You as we become more wholly Yours today.