Sunday, August 8, 2010

Taming the Tongue

By Anne Mateer

I recently attended the She Speaks conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. I didn’t get to go to many sessions due to my meetings with other writers, but one I thing I heard struck with me from the moment I heard it. Lysa TerKeurst said that of all the things she wanted us to take away, she wanted us to understand that ministry was 24/7 and that “God-honoring reactions will give us a God-sized reach.”

I remember nodding and thinking, “I’ve been doing pretty well on the reaction thing lately.”

Wait a minute—what is that scripture? Oh yeah, Proverbs 16:18. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

My fall came fast and furious! I returned to my room and called my husband to hear about his day. And I did not react well. I did realize it, but not until I’d had my say on the phone. So I picked myself up, asked for forgiveness, and finished the weekend believing I’d return to my good reaction mode.

But then I arrived home. And several times a day for the next week I heard the biting tone of my voice as my volume rose in frustration. Yes, I was tired. Yes, other people weren’t always acting right. But that wasn’t the point. The point was the quality of my reactions.

So I’ve gone back to some verses about the tongue and am committing them to memory.

Psalm 39:1 I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.”

Proverbs 12:18 There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

James 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

So how are you doing? Are there any other “tongue” Scriptures help you keep a rein on your mouth? Or maybe there is another issue that has cropped up in a sermon or a Bible study that you thought you’d conquered but it has reared its ugly head. How are you dealing with that? 

Photos courtesy of


  1. Isn't it funny how often we come back to dealing with the same issues? I have the same issue with guarding my tongue. And nowadays there's also the danger of not guarding my fingers. I.e. sending an offensive of defensive e-mail before taking time to consider. I think I may have even done that as recently as yesterday. Thanks for the reminder that we need to be on guard, Anne.

  2. I like that, "God-honoring reactions," thought. We have to learn to respond to God before we react to circumstances, and sometimes it's a split-second decision.
    Two more good verses on this line:

    Prov 16:21 NKJV
    The wise in heart will be called prudent,
    And sweetness of the lips increases learning.

    Prov 31:26 NKJV
    She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

    I needed this today!
    Thank you!

  3. Yes, Lisa, our words are no longer just from our tongues. They come through our fingers, too.

    Good scriptures, Niki! I'll add those to my list.

    Another is Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.

  4. Oh wow, Anne, you've done a great job reminding me of a crucial point to Christian maturity. I have failed miserably in this area too many times to count. Lisa's got a great point about what we say online, too.

    I recognize myself in the "pouring" out of words mentioned in Proverbs 15. I'll be working on the rest of the verse: "The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer." Thanks so much for the reminder today.

  5. I am reminded of Ephesians 4:29 that says the no unwholesome thing come out of your mouth but that which will edify and minister grace to the hearer. I have this placed in various places in my home. I have this posted by the phone as well as the computer.

  6. Thoughtful and wise post today, Anne. I'd love to think that I never speak rashly, but I know I have on too many occasions, usually at home and sometimes at work, but with maturity I hope I'm doing better.

    I love this Proverb that you posted.

    Proverbs 12:18 There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

    May we aim for the words that bring healing. I think sometimes it's easy to write words(as Lisa mentioned)that may do harm to others because the person we are writing to or about isn't standing there in front of us. I'm not sure, just a thought.

    And then this one that Niki mentioned, Prov 31:26 NKJV
    She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

    I think I'll tape that above my computer and phone at work. :)

  7. What timing Louise. Your post showed up just as I posted mine and we're both talking about taping these proverbs to our desks and phones. :) Great minds as they say.

  8. Yes, Susanne, I think I often spend too little time "pondering" before I speak, too.

    Thanks, Andrea.

    Another good one, Louise! My list is growing longer!

    I agree with you, Jillian. I think it is easier to write rash or harsh words than to actually say them in the presence of the other person. With the growth of email and internet, it is an area we all need to be mindful of.

  9. Jillian yes great minds do think alike lol. Anne I am really trying to be mindful of how others might percieve things that I say and do.

  10. Great devotional, Anne.

    As for scripture...

    Psalm 34:13 says, 'Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.'

    and more relevant to me...

    Psalm 45:1b says, ' tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.' Of course, the difference between the tongue and pen is that I can scratch out, delete or erase things written with a pen but once the words escape your tongue, they're out there for good.

    Thanks for the reminder, Anne.

    Anita Mae.

  11. Wasn't it also in James that the tongue is the rudder of the ship?

    What a difficult subject. I needed that message today. Could you remind me everyday?


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