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Controlling Your Tongue

“Sorry that I’m late for the meeting. Traffic!”

With frequency, such half-truths were becoming easier and easier to tell. Of course, there had been some traffic on the freeway but nothing out of the ordinary that would have delayed my arrival had I left on time. The real truth was that I had overslept because I had stayed up to watch the late night edition of the Oprah Show. Notice I didn’t actually say that traffic was extremely heavy; I just implied it so that the team members would conclude that my tardiness was outside of my control. For quite some time, my husband had been trying to convince me that any intent to deceive is a lie. Besides his stern warning, my conscience was faithful in reminding me of Proverbs 12:22 (NIV): “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful”. Therefore, whether the misrepresentation took the form of half-truth, flattery, exaggeration, or blatant deceitfulness, it was still a lie — plain and simple.

It seems that I’ve been challenged with sins of the mouth for as long as I’ve been able to talk. However, a couple of years ago, I reached the height of frustration with my tongue trouble after my indiscreet words wreaked havoc in a valued relationship. The moment that I spoke the words, I regretted them. I knew that trying to get them back was as impossible as recapturing a pillowcase of feathers released in the wind. I decided then that it was time to bring my tongue, that little unruly member, under control.

I began my journey by researching every negative use of the tongue that I could find in the Bible. I ultimately identified 30! I’m sure there are more but I knew that if I could conquer even half of them, I would have gained a major victory. I made a commitment to go on a 30-day “tongue fast,” a period of verbal abstinence from all ungodly speaking. With my arsenal of Scriptures, I embarked upon my quest for a wholesome tongue that would be a well spring of life in every situation. I knew that the task would be impossible without Divine empowerment. I was well aware of James’ warning, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8 NIV). Notwithstanding, I took courage from the words of my savior, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27 KJV). Each time I caught a negative talker in the act, I drafted her to join my mission. My strategy, when faced with the temptation to dishonor God in any way with negative speech, was to catch myself; stop mid-sentence and exclaim, “Tongue Fast!” It seemed that I had to restart the fast a zillion times during the first few days. I would succumb to some of the tongue temptations even though the Holy Spirit was flashing a yellow caution light, warning me to stop. Sometimes I deliberately ran the red light and said the wrong thing; other times I stopped and won the battle.

It was eye opening and disappointing to find out how many of God’s children suffered from tongue trouble. I realized that this was a big problem in the body of Christ. Many seemed to be oblivious to the power of their words to build or tear down, motivate or discourage, heal or hurt, spread or squash rumors, and, to delight or deceive. Perhaps you can identify with my struggles and triumphs in the instances below.

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article courtesy of Smith-Pegues

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