The Toxic Tongue

by Bill  Rudge

Many lives have been ruined, friendships destroyed, families devastated, reputations tarnished, and churches split by the “deadly duo” of the tongue and temper. Much misery and humiliation could be avoided if only love and self-control (two aspects of the fruit of the spirit) were displayed instead of unbridled words or impulsive outbursts of anger.

Words are like arrows shot from a bow – once released they cannot be taken back. That is why Scripture cautions us to guard our tongues and speak words of wisdom and healing instead of foolishness and hurt.

A principle I use when developing new exercise routines and nutritional protocols or teaching self-defense is: “If it works, use it; if it doesn’t, lose it.” A similar principle to implement regarding conversations, behavior and relationships is: “If it is beneficial, proceed; if it is unprofitable, take heed.”

Gossip is not only spreading lies and rumors, but also spreading the truth for wrong motives. If you are not part of the solution to someone’s problems or safeguarding someone from being influenced by them or you are not truly interceding for them, then either keep your mouth shut or repent of your gossip.

Each of us is responsible for every word we speak. Jesus tells us,

“every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36, 37).

Revelation 22:15 gives a list of those who will not be allowed to enter the New Jerusalem. Included in that list are those who love and practice lying.

The apostle Paul admonishes us,

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

You may wonder if it is fair that what we speak can affect our lives and even our destiny. But our words are a reflection of what is in our hearts. Jesus said,

“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34).

Be sure to communicate clearly. Many problems that escalate into hostility and revenge often stem from miscommunications and misunderstandings. In an effort to resolve needless conflicts before they get out of control, communicate clearly and be certain you understand what the other person is saying.

Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19).

Also, be quick to apologize and offer forgiveness.

Remember the admonition of the apostle Paul:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

A few more scriptures on the tongue follow:

If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble (Proverbs 21:23).

He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin (Proverbs 13:3).

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity (Proverbs 21:23).

A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue (Proverbs 17:4).

Put away lying. Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor for we are members of one another (Ephesians 4:25).

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

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (James 3:5-10).

Always pause to ponder the immediate and long-term consequences before saying or doing something you will regret. Attempt to be wise and controlled concerning your words and actions. Care more about your testimony and the honor of His name than undermining others by gossip, lies or intimidating them with outbursts of anger and aggressive behavior.