February 18

Taming the Tongue

Proverbs 10:19  In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.

Talking too much is not just a possible irritant; it easily leads to sin. In any conversation, there are only so many words that God intends. (I’m not being a legalist here—just speaking in generalities.) Have you ever felt that nudge that says, “You’ve said enough—time to wrap this up,” and then you’ve continued the conversation? What happened? It likely ended up in things you wish you hadn’t said or heard, and or just devolved into silliness or worthlessness.

Watch a couple of phenomena to catch how this works if you can’t see it in your own life. Listen to a teenage girl (sorry, young ladies) if she has unlimited time to talk or text. The conversation usually has a point and a focus in the beginning. But let the conversation go on too long, and it often moves to criticism, an inordinate self-centeredness, or folly. They’ve used up the “right” amount of words, and as the Holy Spirit leaves and they continue, the conversation can lead to sin.

Or watch the scourge of reality television (but only for a few moments, lest you lose too many brain cells). Aside from creating unhealthy or manufactured conflict for effect, the other focus of reality TV is to get folks talking and talking and talking. Since actual communication isn’t part of the talk, it often turns into unhealthy expressions of fear or anger or judgment that might make for good ratings, but isn’t helping either the speaker or listener.

There are only so many things that “ought” to be said, even in light or humorous conversations. Not everything that enters the mind should exit the mouth. God desires to use our mouths for our benefit and for the blessing of others. Anything beyond that needs to be examined for its effect and effectiveness.

Prayer: Lord, help me to look at my speech differently. Move me from simply expressing myself to blessing and edifying others. Lead me to express myself in ways that build others up.

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