How can I learn to control my tongue?
Keys to Taming Your Tongue: taking responsibility for your words
You probably know the pain of regretting words you have spoken: words of pride, dishonesty, envy, gossip, or anger. Although you can seek to restore bruised relationships through repentance and forgiveness, spoken words can never be retrieved. Scripture warns,“Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers.”(Ephesians 4:29).
Consider the following keys for taming the tongue:
1. Rely on God’s strength to aid you.
With human efforts alone, no one can tame his tongue. “But the tongue no man can tame, an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison.”(James 3:8). Only by the grace of God in your life can you seek to control your speech. “I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13).
2. Dedicate your heart and tongue to the Lord each day.
You face new circumstances and new conversations every day. Regularly acknowledging your need for discernment and God’s grace helps you remain conscious of your words. “And the words of my mouth shall be such as may please: and the meditation of my heart always in thy sight. O Lord, my helper, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 18:15).
3. Put your heart in tune with God’s Spirit by daily reading His Word.
“All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work. ”(II Timothy 3:16–17).
4. Meditate on Scriptures that address the power of words.
By studying Scriptures about the tongue, you will gain insights into the power of your words. Memorizing and meditating on these verses will strengthen your resolve to speak with grace. “Thy words have I hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against thee.” (Psalm 118:11).
5. Assume responsibility for every word you speak.
God desires that you speak the truth (see Ephesians 4:25 and Psalm 14:2,3) and that you keep your word (see Matthew 5:37). He will hold you responsible for what you speak.“. . .every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.”(Matthew 12:36).
6. Ask those around you if you use words that are offensive.
Your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances can observe the effects of your words and attitudes. Ask them about your speech patterns and evaluate the observations they share. (See Proverbs 27:6, 17.)
7. Commit yourself to giving a good report and when it is necessary, to following Biblical principles of correction.
“Thou shalt not be a detractor nor a whisperer among the people. Thou shalt not stand against the blood of thy neighbour. I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but reprove him openly, lest thou incur sin through him. Seek not revenge, nor be mindful of the injury of thy citizens. Thou shalt love thy friend as thyself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:16–18). “But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.” (Matthew 18:15).
8. Fulfill past promises, and think carefully before making any new promises.
You need to fulfill the promises you have made, even when doing so requires unforeseen sacrifice. God will bless the one who “. . .sweareth to his neighbour, and deceiveth not; ” (Psalm 14:4). Jesus said, “ But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: . . . ” (Matthew 5:37).
9. Ask for forgiveness for any unloving words or attitudes.
“ For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. He is able also with a bridle to lead about the whole body. . . .”(James 3:2).
When you speak words that you shouldn’t have spoken, seek forgiveness. “Let all . . . clamour, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ. ” (Ephesians 4:31–32).
10. Learn to speak words that will encourage, comfort, inspire, and edify.
Ask God to guide you to speak words that will honor Him and accomplish His purposes. “Let your speech be always in grace seasoned with salt: that you may know how you ought to answer every man. ” (Colossians 4:6). “Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew, by a good conversation, his work in the meekness of wisdom.”(James 3:13).
Your words indicate what is in your heart. (See Luke 6:45.) In your efforts to control your tongue, follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition:“whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.”(Philippians 4:8). When the thoughts of your heart are focused on what is good and true, your words will reflect it, bringing honor to God and to others.