Over the years I have asked myself and my friends several questions. What do you think of me? Who am I? What, in me, needs to change? How do you see me? What kind of a person am I? I get various answers, depending on who I ask and sometimes how they feel about me at the time. The scripture gives us several answers to those questions. Scripture also tells us why we are the way we are and how to change. From my study of the scriptures, I have come to some conclusions. Today I would like to discuss one of those thoughts; the taming of the tongue. As I discuss this topic, I would like you to keep in mind that there is only one opinion that ever really matters. What God thinks matters more than what anyone else thinks of us. But God uses other people’s opinions of us to show us places where we need to grow and change. Their opinion may not be truth based. They do not know the deepest parts of our hearts, but God does. First and foremost, ask God for truth about other people’s opinions.
For example: “Betty” thinks I need to just stop thinking about the past because I am making life worse for myself by dwelling on the past. Just push that past away or bury it or something. This is false, but we submit to that opinion frequently and therefore get ourselves stuck in a place we cannot get past. God’s opinion is that we need to come to Him with our past in the places where we are stuck. He will walk us through it to the places where evil spiritual forces have planted a lie. They stay there to maintain that lie so that we cannot move forward. If we go back there with the Lord, He will replace that lie with truth setting us free. That is the only permanent way to keep the past from haunting us. God wants us to face the past so that we can discover what we believe in it. When we acknowledge that belief at the source where it was planted, God can replace it with His truth. That brings peace and freedom.
So, let’s discuss the tongue. What we say matters. James 3 teaches us that it is difficult to tame the tongue but that we are responsible before God for what we say. There are many scriptures about the tongue. James 3 is a good passage to study about this topic. Below is the scripture that I will be discussing.
1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly. 2For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. 3And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies. 4Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs. 5So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. 6And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence – and is set on fire by hell.
7For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. 8But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. 11A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? 12Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.
13Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. 18And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.
It is important to understand that what we say reflects what is in our hearts. When we are calm we can speak uplifting, calming words because we can speak from the logical, functional part of our hearts and minds. We want to do what is right before the Lord. We can be really nice when we choose to. But when we get triggered by something, our brain switches modes, if you will. We begin to speak from the right side of our brains and from the emotion center of the brain and heart. Then we see something else coming out of our mouths. The lies that are imbedded in this other part of the brain come forward and out our mouths. We then begin to defile our own hearts and poison relationships with our words. Jesus told the disciples that it was not what goes into the person that defiles them, it is what comes out of them. I believe He was referring to the tongue, our speech, the actions and attitudes that we display when we are triggered.
So, how do we change this thing that seems to be so unchangeable? Sheer will power will not do it. That will help some of the time, but under stress or when we are triggered, we default to the emotional belief system that we hold onto. Experience taught us to hang onto our reactions because it pushes the pain into a place where it can be managed.
I, for one, do not want to live a life where I am just managing and not fully living. I want to be able to appropriate (take hold of and use) all that God has for me. My emotional reactions keep me from being able to do this. We all have emotional reactions to things and people. Would it not be better if we could see people from God’s perspective? Have you noticed that when you are triggered, you are looking inwardly rather than seeing what is outside of you? That is because you are actually, with a part of your brain, looking at the memory where the trigger comes from. Cognitively, you do not see the memory. It is located in an emotion based part of the brain. You cannot reason it away because emotion does not follow reason. So what does work?
Paul teaches us to renew our minds daily. We are to bring these parts of our hearts to Jesus to begin to develop relationship with Him in those specific areas. It is in the developing of that relationship with each part of our brain and heart that we begin to receive truth and can then discover what it is like to bit by bit, not get triggered by situations that would normally trigger us. Truth eliminates the trigger, but that truth needs to be imbedded in all parts of our hearts and minds experientially through relationship with Christ through His Holy Spirit. Then we can begin to tame the tongue. It is then that we can be free in those stuck areas. That is mind renewal. If the lies are replaced with truth, that is reflected in our speech, actions and attitudes.
Something that really seemed strange to me at first was understanding that the different areas of the soul can and do think independently of each other. The emotion part of us thinks and reacts on its own. That is why we can be surprised by reactions that suddenly come out of us through triggers. The will is the choosing and decision making part of our souls. That part needs renewing relationship with Christ too. The rational, thinking, functional part of us also thinks independently of the other parts of the soul. Although this part can reason, it needs relationship just as much as the rest of the soul. God wants us to worship Him with our whole being. When there are parts of our soul that are not in sync with the rest, our worship and relationship with God is limited.
So, a symptom that proves what we believe is reactiveness and emotional speech. What comes out of us reflects what is inside. If you have something that is not godly coming out in speech, actions and attitudes, there is room for more mind renewing relationship with God our maker. As the tongue goes, so goes our lives like a rudder moving a ship. Let’s tame our tongue! Let’s use self discipline to control what we say. But let us also get rid of the belief system that does not align with God’s perspective and replace it with the belief system that God wants to plant in our hearts so that the discipline of the tongue is not so difficult for us to achieve.
May God bless you all with His truth, renewing your minds and causing peace to dwell in your hearts! God bless you!