By Scott Brown
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
On more than one occasion I’ve been ashamed of, and had to apologize for, my words spoken in haste or hurt. This is among the most persistent and problematic struggles I face in my daily walk.
A few years ago I became painfully aware of how I had lost control of my tongue. Traffic is the worst and I was already running late for a meeting when it seemed everyone else on the road was plotting to keep me from getting there. Of course, I started to voice my opinion angrily and boldly (it’s amazing how brave I can become in my car with the windows up). While I was giving full vent to my anger at the standstill traffic I heard the small voice of my daughter from the backseat loudly join in yelling, “get out of the way you jerks!”
Immediately I felt such shame and turned around to apologize to her and explain that Daddy was wrong when I noticed her window was open and the person next to us was laughing. This was when I knew I had a problem with control.
James illustrates the importance of self-control through the power of the tongue to do great harm or great good. The tongue can proclaim the gospel and sing the praises of God or it can condemn others and harm people. In truth, the problem doesn’t begin with the tongue but the heart.
The tongue reveals what’s in the heart. Brothers, let us protect our hearts, and if we fail at that let us resolve to keep our mouths shut when our hearts are not right. God’s Word says a lot about the importance of self-control.
It’s such an important part of the Christian’s life because we can’t submit ourselves to the Spirit’s control if we don’t first have self-control. I can’t yield to God if I’m already yielding to a loose tongue, foul attitude or any external force that seeks to enslave me in this world.
Ephesians 4 commands us to “Let no corrupt word out of your mouth …” We must understand the power of words and fight to not let any word that has been corrupted by sin, sorrow, or pain escape from our lips. Applying this text to our social media crazed world reminds us to be extra careful and prayerful what we type as well. So many brethren have ruined their credibility over a flippant or frustrated tweet.
Entire ministries have been forfeited over a single ill planned post. It is so important for us, the people of God, to be wiser in our words and resolve not to communicate anything publicly or privately without the goal that either believers are edified, God is glorified, sinners are evangelized or Satan is horrified.
Lord, set a guard in our hearts and over our tongues that we would rather never speak another word in this life if it will do harm to your people or hinder the gospel. May we resolve that we will use our words for building not breaking the church and healing not harming the people of God.