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SERMON: Taming The Tongue

Our words have the ability to cause joyful delight or destructive despair, all depending on how they are used. Likewise, our words have the same power -- they can bring joy or cause despair. Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: "The tongue has the power of life and death..."

We all must help ourselves tame our tongue. The stakes are high. Your words can either bring life, or they can bring death to your spouse, your kids, your parents, your siblings, your relatives, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. Our tongues can build others up, or they can tear them down.

...if we don't exhibit control over our tongues, we can render our religion of no value.

Someone has said that great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people. We're quick to avoid murder, stealing, and drunkenness, but we often assassinate fellow citizens of the world and leave destruction in our wake by the way we use our tongues.

Husbands have stabbed their wives with words that are as sharp as daggers and wives have lashed out with tongues that cut and pierce.

Parents have devastated their kids by repeated blasts of venom. Children have exploded at their parents with volleys that have leveled the family like a bomb.

Heed James 1:19, 26: "...Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry...if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."

If we launch verbal cannons of destruction, they will have devastating consequences on others. And, our words have a direct correlation with our own spirituality -- if we don't exhibit control over our tongues, we can render our religion of no value. If we are able to discipline our tongue, we can prove that we are a mature person. The hardest sins to control are the sins of the tongue. A mature person is able to hold the most uncontrollable part of his human anatomy in check. Proverbs 21:23 says "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity."

The tongue remains hidden for the most part, but when it does make its presence known it has devastating power. The tongue can express or repress; release or restrain; enlighten or obscure; adore or abhor; offend or befriend; affirm or alienate; build or belittle; comfort or criticize; delight or destroy; be sincere or sinister. The tongue can Xerox the good or X-ray the bad.

Just like a small spark can ignite an entire forest, so too words that flow out of tongues can corrupt lives and shipwreck families. Words that are unleashed without thought can significantly affect and alter lives. James is pretty strong here as he tells us that our tongues are set on fire by hell itself.

Words can spread like fire in our families. Let me ask you a couple questions. How many people have you maimed or killed with your words? Are your kids dying a slow death because of your lethal lexicon? Is your tongue quick to criticize? Are you ragging on your kids, your friends, your loved ones, or are you replenishing their love tanks every day? Do your words build up or do they tear down?

Like snake venom, or corrosive rust, our tongues are just looking to strike unsuspecting people, they're active, they never rest. There is no sting of a serpent that does as much damage as one wagging tongue. We must be consistent. What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is in our hearts. We must learn to tame the wild fires that rage within, before using this fuel as poison.

Ask yourself, "Are your words flames or flowers?" Using the acronym THINK, try to ask these five questions before you speak.

Is it True? Remember this rule about gossip: "The more interesting it is, the more likely it is to be false."

Is it Helpful? Will your words help bring about a solution to a problem?

Is it Inspiring? Will your words build up someone?

Is it necessary? Do we have to say anything at all?

Is it kind? Are your words based on a desire to help?

Try talking less. Your chances of blowing it with your words are directly proportional to the amount of time you spend with your mouth open. Abe Lincoln said, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Calvin Coolidge said, "I have never been hurt by anything I did not say."

Try building up others. The Bible continuously reminds us to encourage one another with our words. Someone has said that we shouldn't complain about our spouse's faults because if it weren't for those faults they could have married someone so much better!

Are we speaking words of death or words of life? Words of life energize people. Proverbs 12:25 says, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."

In its natural state, the tongue is a "restless evil". It's like a ferocious beast that will not be subdued and like a serpent that's full of deadly poison.

We all need to replenish our hearts with the calm to think before we speak, to transform the way we use our words. Looking towards God, we can all find "heart transplants", the strength we need to actively change and become the people we want to be. If you keep your old heart, you'll continue to launch verbal grenades and live like you've always lived. Let us all search for better words, to be greeted with more positive outcomes.

Adapted from a sermon by Brian Bill as posted on www.SermonCentral.com


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by Pasadena Phil

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