We don’t want fire spewing from our mouths. God would rather that our words be kind and loving, gentle and full of peace. Our words do matter.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Who’s in control?
Words of gossip surround us. They even tempt us to join in the unsavory habit. In fact, like most people, we probably catch ourselves starting our own gossip about the words or actions of others. If we’re honest, we all can claim the use of our tongues to criticize or judge others.
The Bible has much to say about the tongue and how destructive its use can be. The book of Proverbs tells us: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”(10:19) “He who guards mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.”(13:3)
The book of James refers to the tongue as a fire, “a world of iniquity that … defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)
Out of our mouth come both praise for God and cursing. James says this should not be. But when we give God control of our tongue, He will help us use it for good rather than for evil. By the power of His Holy Spirit, we can turn away from the destructive habits of gossip and lying and criticism. Day by day as we commit ourselves to spend time in His Word and in prayer, He will help us gain control over our tongue.
Lack of self-control comes in other forms than just in the tongue. Think of anger, bad habits, or evil conduct. Anything in which we lack control can bring ruin to ourselves and to others. “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28)
Self-control is the last in the list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) We can use self-control in many ways, but it may seem hardest when we speak. By God’s strength and power, however, we can overcome our desire to gossip and replace our hurtful words with those of love. Then our words will become a tremendous witness of God’s love.
Lord, thank You for the fruit of self-control. Cause us to resist the desire to speak words that do not bring life to ourselves or to others. Make us aware of every word we speak, every thought we entertain, and every action we take—for Jesus’ sake, amen.