As soon as the words left my mouth… I wished I could take them back…
Ever been there?
Of course you have. We all have regrets, especially around the words that leave our mouths.
Early this morning I read, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Ah, such a challenge for those of us who are verbal processors!
When God gave us the gift of voice, He gave us such a powerful tool. However, sometimes it becomes a weapon of destruction! James, the brother of Jesus, wrote extensively on the tongue, “Likewise 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. The tongue also is a fire.” James goes on to write, “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” (James 3:5, 9-10).
While there are a host of ways our tongues can get us into trouble, it seems we most often fall into these five traps: Gossip, criticism, boasting, complaining, and cursing. God is crystal clear on each of these. He doesn’t want us to gossip. He cautions us not to judge others, He forbids us from boasting, He asks us to do everything without complaining, and warns us about cursing. Whew! Thankfully, He offers grace.
What’s the answer?
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, words that are loving, joyful, peaceful, and gentle will flow from your mouth. It’s not that you won’t correct when necessary. The key is, in how you do it. “Let your gentleness be evident be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). As I think about our culture at this present moment, I think we, as believers, need to be known for our graciousness.
Listen more than you speak. Often we talk more than we listen. However, 80% of good communication is listening. Jesus said, “Be careful how you listen” (Luke 8:18). Did you know that one of the leading causes of loneliness is poor social skills? One of the more important social skills you can develop is listening, because people love to feel heard. Set it as your goal to make others feel heard. The truth is, people don’t feel loved unless they feel heard. So put some effort into your listening skills and your tongue will be less of an issue.
Fast negativity for a week. That sounds easy until you try it. Don’t say anything negative for a week. No complaining, no gossip, no criticism, and no cursing. Instead, every time you feel tempted, offer thanksgiving instead. “Thank You Lord, for the person who is driving me nuts. Thank You Lord, for this awful weather. Thank You Lord, for this challenge because it will give me the opportunity to see You work!” Fasting negativity detoxes our souls from pessimism. It leads to you becoming a more positive person and, let’s face it, people like to be around others who are positive. Here’s what I know: the Holy Spirit wants you to be known as a person who carries the presence of Christ. Negativity gets in the way of that. Why not fast your negativity for a week and ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse your soul of pessimism. Ask Him to fill you with Holy positivity.
Friend, we are living in contentious days. Everyone has strong opinions. Let’s agree to ask God to set a guard over our mouths. May He give us wisdom in our daily lives to live as people who first and foremost want to honor Christ with everything we say.
One way to cultivate deeper connection is to do a friends retreat. Why not order your copy of Rooted Joy, gather a few friends this Fall, and do the study together? It’s very short and filled with “Girlfriend Activities” that you can try together.
This week on The Connected Mom Podcast, we’re having a conversation with Janet Eckles. Janet lost her eyesight at age 30 while raising 3 little boys. Join the conversation to hear how Janet discovered resiliency in her journey!