Has your mouth ever gotten you in trouble? Have you ever wept at the utter meanness of something that just rolled off your tongue? Have your words ever wounded someone you love?
I am guilty. My words have tripped me up again and again. My resolve to speak kind words melts away when the frustration builds at having my agenda thwarted once more. Before I know it, I have raised my voice to bark orders.
Earlier this year, I started writing a Bible study to define womanhood from God’s perspective. Life forced me to put it on hold for several months until just recently. The topic of taming my tongue has been heavy on my heart recently, so imagine my surprise when I reopened the file to find that I had left off with this verse….
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.Proverbs 31:26 ESV
I almost laughed aloud at God’s impeccable timing! He knew exactly when I would return to the Bible study and what I would need to study. So I dug in with eagerness, hoping that God would finally deliver me from the trap of my own tongue.
As I was studying for the book, I looked at James 3, which addresses the mouth that tries to bless God while cursing others at the same time. This chapter holds much wisdom to help us control our mouths.
We all struggle with our words.
James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (ESV)
I am not alone in this battle. You are not alone. Only the most perfectly mature, self-controlled person is able to come even close to taming his tongue. If mortal humans were able to attain this level of maturity, they would be few and far between.
I recently heard a podcast from James Dobson’s Family Talk. He was interviewing Pat Holt and Dr. Grace Ketterman who recently wrote a book called When You Feel Like Screaming: Help for the Frustrated Mother. They said that 90% of mothers yell at their children when they feel overwhelmed! Suddenly, I felt the Father’s gentle reminder from 1 Corinthians 10…
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
Sometimes when we struggle with a sin, Satan wants us to convince us that we are the only ones with the problem…that we are somehow worse than everyone else and therefore unworthy of God’s love and power. In truth, all our sin-struggles are common to mankind. Whew!! While this knowledge doesn’t remove my guilt, it certainly lifts the burden of false shame.
We all lack the ability to control our words.
James 3:8 says, “…no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison.” (ESV)
Did you notice the word “uncontrollable”? It is impossible, humanly speaking, to control the words that come out of our mouth! None of us possess the necessary will-power to keep our tongues from spewing harsh words that damage our relationships with our children, with our spouses, with our friends. Our tongue cannot be humanly tamed.
It is no wonder that I struggle so much with this! I can be nice and calm all day, but give me too many pressures at once, and I will spew an ugly fountain of fussing and griping. It is a constant battle. While I see improvement here and there, I seem to slip back into this nasty habit over and over. It feels like I have a huge target on my back. I try to nurture my children with love and grace, only to sabotage all my investments with a few nasty, impatient words. Is something deeper happening?
We have a mission to fill with our tongues.
The Proverbs 31 woman used her mouth to share wisdom. She blessed others with her words of kindness. God calls us to do the same as we nurture our relationships.
Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (ESV)
Is is possible that the enemy knows what beautiful miracles Jesus wants to perform through our words? Does he know the power of kind, gentle words from a Christ-following mother? Could the enemy be mounting a precise attack on women’s words to prevent us from opening our mouths in wisdom and kindness?
Ladies, we are in open spiritual warfare. Satan, like a roaring lion, targets those who could be a threat to his kingdom of darkness. He does not want us to realize our potential to speak Jesus’ life into those we influence. He wants us to undermine our good words with the bad ones.
We have a choice. We can use our mouths for blessing or for cursing, for life or for death, for selfishness or for love. We can let the enemy win with the war on our mouths or we can double down in prayer, asking God to reveal the keys to victory.
If you can identify with this struggle, stay tuned for next Friday’s blog entry. We will address the root cause of our problem. There IS hope! What we cannot humanly control, Jesus can conquer with His Spirit. We CAN live out the mission God has for us!! We do not have to be slaves to the mistakes of our mouths!!