Lesson 3 -- fourth quarter 2003
September 21, 2003
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications
How do I control my tongue?
In today's passage we learn (again) that we humans have no power to control our own tongues. We may exercise all the will power we can muster and try all the psychological techniques we can think of. But our efforts will always fall short because, "the tongue can no man tame" (James 3:8).
The Christian, though, is not left without hope. Despite our own inability to master the tongue, we do have recourse to some powerful tools. So let's consider just a few.
Ask God to work in you. God's power and wisdom will accomplish that at which we fail: tongue control. But He will not barge in to snatch up the assignment; we must give it to Him. As I read Psalm 19:14, I can somewhat imagine the fervency (perhaps even desperation) in David's heart: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." I believe that was more than a wish on David's part. I think it was an appeal for divine intervention in order to bring about soundness of thought and speech. We can and must do the same. As we learn in Philippians 2:13, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." God not only sets a divine standard for Christian speech, He makes available divine power to live by that standard!
Yield yourself to God daily. I know that all Christians have yielded themselves at least once to the Lordship of Jesus. That's the beginning, and as with all beginnings, that's not enough. The Christian walk is a life of daily surrender to the Master. Romans 6:13 gives us some practical direction in this surrender: "Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." To bring your tongue under control, develop the practice of consciously surrendering it to God each day...as often as you need to.
Choose right thinking. Jesus taught that "of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh" (Luke 6:45). To speak rightly we must think rightly. Rejecting thoughts that oppose themselves to godliness will remove much source material for ungodly speech. Second Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." The obedience required of us encompasses internal (thought) obedience in addition to external (life) obedience. So choose the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, positive, virtuous, praise-worthy thinking commanded in Philippians 4:8.
Set your heart to obey. Perhaps you are like me in that choosing right thinking isn't as easy as it might sound. Sometimes it seems I can't get my thoughts and feelings to line up with godliness. Since godly speech depends on godly thinking, does that mean that right speaking also becomes unattainable? If I can't get my thoughts in line, how shall my speech become God-pleasing?! Read Proverbs 16:3 and be instructed and encouraged, my friend: "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." When I set my heart to obey, when I do what is right in any area, I free God to initiate and continue His marvelous work of stabilizing my thoughts according to His thoughts. And one result of that is godly speech!
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