by Stephanie Neibarger
This Week's Verse: James 3:5, "The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." (NIV)
Watch your mouth! Have you ever been told that as a child? You would say something that was probably a little inappropriate and your parents would not-so-gently caution you to “Watch your mouth!” Yeah, me too! (More times than I care to admit!)
Just yesterday (as I’m writing this) I was certain a friend of mine had lied to me. I wanted so badly to cuss her out, yell, scream, whatever, to let her know that I had caught her in a lie and wasn’t going to put up with it. But, after taking a step back, I thought, "What good would that do?" It would only hurt our friendship and if she did lie, it was her problem, not mine. So I immediately prayed (thanks Kathy!).
But that’s not where this story ends… today, as I read the two daily scripture calendars that I have on either side of my microwave, both of them (yes – both!) talked about controlling the tongue! Wow! I am soooo glad I didn’t lash out at my friend. So now, instead of regretting any harsh words, I’m writing a devotion (thanks God!).
Quite a few years ago when I used to teach I visited another teacher in her room. I noticed a plaque on her desk that read “It is better to leave angry words unspoken, than to mend the heart those words have broken.” I have never forgotten that simple little rhyme. As an immature Christian, if I got upset or angry about something, I would fly off the handle and say whatever I thought, no matter the consequences, only to regret it later. I’ve gotten a little better at controlling my tongue when I get angry but admit I can still say some pretty stupid and hurtful things at times.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (NLB).
I have a phrase I like to use with my athletes when they come into the training room complaining about someone or something… “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I hope, like that plaque, it will stick with them forever.
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Prayed from Psalm 19:14, NLT)
The Bible tells us that if we want joy in our life and have happy days, we are to keep our tongue from saying bad things and our lips from talking bad about others (1 Peter 3:10). It might help to remember the little rhyme that has stuck with me throughout the years: “It’s better to leave angry words unspoken, than to mend the heart those words have broken.”
James 3:10, "My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right."(CEV)
Proverbs 13:3, "Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything."(NLT)
Proverbs 15:4, "Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."(NLT)
Psalm 39:1,“I will guard my way, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will bridle my mouth, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”(RSV)