My mother always says “Chioma your tongue will bring you problems”. As a child, I never understood why having a tongue should be a problem after all everyone has got one. It took some time for me to realize that the problem was not about having a tongue or mouth; it was the power behind the words I spoke. As a child you can be very careless with words and even if they hurt someone, you are not to bear the consequences. What happens when you have reached the age of accountability? I may be wrong but I believe this is the age where you are able to distinguish between good and bad.
As a teenager, I struggled with anger probably because I was never allowed to express how I felt or the fact that I spent most of my life in a police campground (boarding school). My mother’s words fell on deaf ears until I witnessed the power of my words on my beloved kid brother. The adage “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” is just not true in my opinion. Many years back, I had a fight with my younger brother. He always relied on me a lot, so in anger, I said: “For insulting me let us see how well you do in your matric exams or WAEC (West African Examinations Council as said in Nigeria), and I am not interested in tutoring you”. We did reconcile after getting scolded by my mum but I forgot about the words I said to him. A few years later, my mum called me at the University to say my brother was rushed to the hospital because he was bleeding from his ears and nose during his matric exams. My mind immediately went back to the words I declared over him and I lived in regret for a long time. My brother did not make it back to finish his exams and had to retake it the following year, thank God.
What is the lesson here? Be very careful of the words you declare. Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruits”. The good news is that God is forgiving, merciful and all-sufficient, and with the help of the Holy Spirit we can learn to control our tongues. In this fallen world, we can make the tongue a tree or fountain of life (Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 15:4). This power in our tongues was given to make peace, declare blessings, bring reconciliation and hope and speak the truth of the gospel (words of God) (Colossians 4:6). Remember that God said, “let us make man in our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26). God created the world by the word of his mouth (Psalm 33:6), so if we are made in the image of God, it also means we possess the power in our tongues to declare life or death, blessings or curses. However, we are called as believers in Christ to speak life and blessing into the lives of people (Romans 12:14). Is it always an easy thing to do?
Our tongue is the most difficult thing to control because Satan loves to pervert everything that God created and has turned this power into a weapon of mass destruction. The tongue has changed the course of many people and things in our lifetime (ruined marriages, destroyed nations, churches, careers, and relationships). In today’s society, the power of the tongue is seen in the media (TV, radio, internet), written or typed words (newspapers tabloids, letters, etc.), paintings and signs. These versions of the tongue continue to replace the gifts and grace of God with perverse and negative words, thus corrupting the hearts and minds of many (Proverbs 4:24; Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:4). Know this, unless we make it a habit of declaring Holy Spirit filled wholesome words, good success cannot be achieved (Joshua 1:8).
Before I ever picked up the Bible, my mum explained to me that our emotions and thoughts play a big part in what the tongue declares. She always says “speak life and not death”. Our ability to control what our tongue and mouth declare is a testament to the degree to which our hearts obey God (Matthew 15:18; Luke 6:45). James 3:9-10 explains that we who have been made in the image of God cannot praise and curse with the same tongue and mouth.
What or who do you hold captive in your thoughts today?
Your hearts and thoughts must be guarded jealously against evil (Proverbs 21:23) because an ungrateful heart produces a complaining tongue, a self-righteous heart spews out judgments and an evil heart provokes a dangerous tongue. The world is full of negativity just like its father Satan, so we need to rely on the word of God more than ever if we are to guard our hearts and thoughts (Psalm 141:3). If your heart is faithful, your tongue speaks the truth, if your heart is kind, your tongue will exalt and praise and if your heart is trusting, your tongue will inspire.
“The words you declare will depend on what or who you hold in your heart”
The many times I have been tempted or faced with a serious situation, I must admit it was difficult to not respond negatively. The choice to either keep your thoughts to yourself or tell someone becomes difficult to make. Joyce Meyer once said, “run to the throne and not to the phone”, which is not always an easy thing to do. I would usually speak to a friend once I entered that panic mode but as I began to study God’s words, it became easier to run to God first because at that moment I am saying to myself “peace to you Chichi” (John 15:7). The reason you run to God first is to avoid declaring the wrong words over yourself in that moment of crisis (James 3:6; Proverbs 13:3). How about speaking to or confiding in others? Once your mind is at peace, you can calmly speak to someone if you wish to. Who you speak to is very important. Ensure that the person you confide in for guidance or council is a believer because you will receive directions and encouragement based on God’s will (Psalm 52:4).
Controlling our tongues is a battle we will continue to fight until we close our eyes in this world. Nevertheless, let us surrender ourselves entirely to Christ as our Lord and Savior, only then can our tongues be used for the perfect will of God.