This week, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Ah, it’s such a pure holiday set apart to simply give thanks and praise God for the many ways He has blessed our lives. Family and friends will gather. Turkeys will roast while little ones play football in the backyard. We’ll pass the pumpkin pie and other treats and enjoy a delicious meal. But, it may not play out like a Hallmark movie. There will be those around the dinner table that hold different views than yours. Amidst the laughter and joking it’s easy to let your tongue get you in trouble.
The wise writer of Proverbs wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). Isn’t that the truth? How often have you said something and then instantly regretted the words that came out of your mouth? How often have you, without even realizing it, cast another person in a bad light before someone else? How often have you criticized another without a second thought? Ah, we are all guilty! Our tongues can certainly get us in trouble. Maybe you’re perfect in this area, but in all honesty, I’m not! I still ask God to set a guard over my mouth.
Proverbs 18 gives us 3 tangible ways to set a guard over our mouths. These principles are particularly practical as we enter the Holiday season and enjoy lively conversations around the dinner table.
3 Tips to Tame Your Tongue
Be Careful to Not Air Your Own Opinions. Solomon wrote, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2). In our extremely polarized society, you know someone at the dinner table is going to share their opinion on politics, or the vaccine, or even the type of worship music they prefer. You disagree and you’re going to choke on your sweet potatoes. It’s going to be so tempting to dive in and speak your opinion! But pause. Here’s the thing: you don’t actually have to air your opinions. It’s not that your opinion is wrong, it’s just good at times to keep your opinions to yourself. You don’t have to say everything that comes to mind. Instead, fix your focus on understanding what’s driving the other person towards that opinion. You don’t have to agree. Part of being mature in Christ is loving others well who have different views than you. Listen. Pause. Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to guard your mouth from airing your own opinions.
Don’t Criticize Those Not Present. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8). We tend to think of gossip as only sharing another’s secrets. However, gossip also includes criticizing and accusing others behind their backs. The scary truth is we are never more like Satan than when we are accusing others. That’s his job. He lives to accuse the saints. I don’t want to be drawn into his type of thinking. I want to ask the Holy Spirit to fill my mouth with encouraging words and words that lift others up. I want to live in the fullness of the power of an ungrieved Holy Spirit, and that means I must give up criticizing and judging others. Be discerning about what’s right and wrong but don’t enter into tearing another person down.
Refrain from Interrupting. “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). People need to process their stories, their hurts, and their pain. Let them finish. I believe it is a spiritual discipline to sit quietly and allow someone else to have center stage. Let them pour out their hearts or share their stories. It’s so easy to dive in with our stories, but a heart of love allows another to be center stage. We love best when we’re listening. Listen and love well this Thanksgiving.
Hey friends, I bet you’re thinking about Christmas shopping! Here’s a gift idea for the parents in your life. Every parent I know wants a deeper connection with their kids, and this little book is loaded with practical tips on how to develop that deeper connection: