Now a few tips on how to TAME that tongue.
Tip #1 When it’s time to speak, seek to build up, not tear down
Paul gave this command in Ephesians 4:29: “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.”
When you get inside information does it get buried in the cemetery of your mind or is it just a matter of time before it leaks out. When the grapevine climbs along your wall, do you cut it down or encourage its growth with a little fertilizer of your own?
Here’s helpful rule shared by Henry Van Dyke: “Never believe anything bad about anything unless you positively know it to be true; never tell even that, unless you feel that it is absolutely necessary‑‑and that God is listening while you tell it.”
Here are some ways to help others whose tongues tend to tear down and not build up:
- If they are slandering or gossiping, ask them to name their sources.
- Tell them you will not listen to hearsay
- Ask the person, “May I quote you?” It’s remarkable how fast they turn red and begin to back pedal.
- Openly tell them: “I don’t appreciate hearing that.”
Tip #2 When it’s time to give a critique, offer it with humility and grace
Paul teaches us the importance of graceful (tactful) speech when he says in Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” Ecclesiastes 10:12 says that “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him”.
Today, tact is a dirty word. It’s in style to expose and shame –revealing the “naked truth.” Maybe it’s time to put more clothes on our vocabulary. 1 Peter 4:8 tells us to “have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
The tone, as well as the content of our speech, is vital. Very often it is not what you say that does damage, but how you say it. Proverbs 15:1 says: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 18:6 says, “A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.”
Part of being tactful is choosing the right time to critique. Norman Wright says in his book on communication in marriage: “[I]t is hardest to listen when your spouse picks a poor time to bring something up. For example, you come home late at night, exhausted, and your spouse is already in bed, asleep(or so you think). You get ready for bed, wearily crawl in are just ready for dreamland, when all of a sudden you find out your spouse wasn’t sleeping at all. She’s been waiting for you and she says, “I’d like to talk to you about something that’s been bothering me quite a bit.”
Never forget Proverbs 15:23: “How good is a timely word.”
Tip #3 Resist the temptation to give your opinion in every conversation
Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions…”
Our western education pushes us to have an opinion about everything. It’s almost impossible to get an “A” on an essay if you don’t conclude the paper by saying, “based on my research, I have come to the conclusion that….”
It’s really not a sin to say sometimes: “I don’t know.” Plato said: “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”
Do we really have to say what we’re thinking all the time? Like — “I didn’t get a thing out of that Bible study, did you?” Well, that’s your opinion. Remember, someone else may have been powerfully impacted by the Word. The Holy Spirit often uses the foolish and the weak to accomplish His work. And that’s His opinion on the matter. (See 1 Corinthians 1:26-28)
Tip #4: Be a good listener
Proverbs 18:13 has this word of wisdom: “He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame….”
It’s been estimated that on average we hear only about 20% of what’s being said.
Someone made the comment: “No one would listen to you talk at all if he didn’t know it was his turn next!”
A bad listener tends to judge, evaluate, agree or disagree before the speaker has finished.
Listen to James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen…[and ]slow to speak.”
Listening is a powerful demonstrations of love. A young graduate student at a major university placed an ad in a local newspaper stating he would listen to anyone, without interruption for thirty minutes if the person would simply call the number listed in the paper. Within hours of the ad’s publication, he began receiving calls. For weeks he received eighteen to twenty calls a day.
Just a couple of suggestions for listening: Listen with your whole body. Turn toward the person speaking and look into his or her eyes and don’t let your eyes stray to your surroundings. When someone’s eyes wander to something else in the room you can’t help but imagine it must be a lot more interesting than you are.
In the last three posts we’ve seen how powerful is the tongue — a power for good, and evil. It can destroy others, but it can also boomerang onto the one whose tongue is out of control. So let’s get serious about taming this most unruly member of the body.
I’d love to LISTEN to your comments!