Monday, September 22, 2008

At the Well - The Words We Speak

Gather with other ladies "At the Well,"
sponsored by Joyfully Living for His Glory.
When you are done here, be sure to visit
the other blogs for more encouragement
regarding the words we speak.

I have gotten questions from some of you readers who struggle with sins of the tongue. You write asking me (of all people!) for advice regarding how to stop responding in dishonor to your husbands, how to not yell at your children, how not to gossip about others, and etc. But, I can tell you, friends, I am no expert on controlling the tongue. I need as much counsel about this sin as anyone else ever could.

I really think the Lord is trying to get something through to me. This topic of the words we speak coincides with what is taught in a book I just finished reading, The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo. I understand it is written for parents to use in training their children, but, let me tell you, it struck home with me! It has helped me to realize that many times what comes out of my mouth actually originates with idolatry lurking in my heart. Wicked words coming out of my mouth means, among other things, that I didn't get my way, didn't get what I wanted, or didn't get the respect I thought was due to me.

In fact, I just had a big blow up last week with a very dear friend of over 15 years, and I'm still studying how to answer her (Proverbs 15:28). I am aware that "a soft answer turns away wrath" and that "grievous words stir up anger" (Pro. 15:1), but a soft answer was not in my heart and grievous words came out of my mouth.

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. (Proverbs 15:28)

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (Matthew 12:34-37)

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. (Matthew 15:18)

Do you get the idea from these passages that what we say reveals our true hearts?

I know this is hard to accept. I once had a friend tell me how her grown daughter, who professes to be a believer, uses extreme profanity in fits of anger. Her mother, striving both to justify her daughter's actions and to retain her Christian status in my eyes and in her own, said, "It comes out of her mouth, but it isn't in her heart. I know she doesn't mean to say those things."

This mindset, however, is directly the opposite of what the verses mentioned above teach us concerning what comes out of our mouths. The Scripture convinces us that
  • If we don't have pure hearts, we won't speak pure words.
  • If we don't have soft hearts, we won't give soft answers.
  • If we don't honor our husbands/fathers from our hearts, it will be impossible to truly honor them with our lips.
Since there is only One who knows our true hearts (Jeremiah 17:9, 10) and how to bring about a lasting change in them, then a proper course of action would be to:
  1. Pray the Lord would show us specific sins we have committed with our lips
  2. Confess sins of the tongue both to the Lord and to all those who have been the brunt of our evil speech
  3. Study the Bible regarding what it says about the words we speak
  4. Memorize and meditate upon specific verses concerning wicked words (beginning with those mentioned in this post)
  5. Ask for wisdom when we are tempted to know what to say in that given situation
It is a very serious thing to consider the words that we speak. Some of the most sobering words in the Bible are these:

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:36, 37)

May God grant us the grace to be victorious over our tongues.