[Editor’s Note: Pastor Steve Howell is the Adult Education Minister at Tonganoxie Christian Church in Tonganoxie, Kansas. He’s a gifted teacher, preacher and writer and all around good friend. The following is an adaptation of one of his insightful sermons concerning Christian living in these last days.]
In the last segment of this series on words with consequences, we looked at “Option #3: Purify the Source” and learned it is the only truly biblical and effective response to controlling our tongue from swearing and saying hurtful things. Finally, let’s look at a few practical things that we can do to stay on target.
So where does that leave us concerning taming our tongue?
The book of James has given us some great advice about what not to do. We know that we can’t just let our tongues say whatever they want as that would be harmful. We know that we can’t gain control ourselves as the tongue is impossible to tame. Rather, we know that the best idea is to work on changing our hearts and minds so that the source which feeds our tongue is pure, and that only comes when we allow Jesus to have control over our hearts.
There are a few other practical things that we can do to help our tongues and to help our hearts and minds focused on Christ. Let me share five things you can do with your tongue to help keep it on the right track.
- Recite psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
“Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts” (Eph. 5:19).
If you have a song of praise on your lips, you’ll have a harder time switching to slander. Take advantage of K-LOVE or Air1 radio stations, or put in a gospel CD. Listen to music that praises God which will help keep your heart, mind and tongue in check.
- Thank God for everything.
“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
You have been given hundreds of blessings. Tell God “thank you.” Even consider ways that you can praise God when things are rough. Keep a list going in your smart phone of all the blessings you have each day. Thank God for the little things, and your tongue will have a harder time complaining.
- Having trouble? Pray!
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray” (James 5:13).
Talk to God. He is willing to hear all of your troubles, even if He knows them anyway. Sharing your thoughts with Him will help you keep perspective and honesty so you don’t have to gossip elsewhere. Make a habit of it, say maybe starting your day on your knees by the side of the bed.
- Admit your sins to each other, and pray for each other.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Use your tongue to tell others your failures. Confession is great, and it’s also humbling, so it makes it harder to do it again, but it opens you up to a world of help as you realize you are not alone in your struggles. The biggest help is that it allows you to pray for one another, thereby tapping into God’s strength to help you in your weakness. Go and find a group of other Christians you can trust, like joining a small group, and share.
- Be accountable.
“Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
If you wander from the truth, someone can bring you back if your accountable to another Christian, and visa versa. With gentleness and love, correct those in error. It can even be done in a fun way, but don’t forget to correct and train each other so we can all benefit.
The tongue is a powerful thing, but with God’s help, it no longer has to ruin your life. Use it for good, and let the difference bring glory to God.
If you don’t yet have the “pure source” to tame your tongue, I’d like to invite you now to use your tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord from a heart of repentance, and make Him the master of your speech and of your life.