I am not tempted by course talk, generally not one to gossip (or when I do, I am almost immediately convicted), seldom utter hateful words, and am not given to slander. On any given day, I choose my words carefully. When I read scripture about taming the tongue, I often see those verses as good reminders, but not something I particularly need to dwell on. I'm a careful, cautious girl... rarely fly off the handle... those verses are for other people, right?
Recently, God has shown me that these verses are indeed for me. Here are some of the things I'm learning, and they all center around allowing the Holy Spirit to be the prompter for when to speak and when not to:
1. Just because you have an answer, doesn't mean you need to give it. This brings to mind Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. She was always the first to have her hand up and always had the right answer, much to her classmates chagrin. I am no longer a formal student, but I can certainly find myself spouting off "the right answer," in other contexts without thinking first or paying attention to those around me. Sometimes the process of arriving at the "right answer" is just as important as the answer itself. Everyone having a voice and a chance to process things at their own pace, these things have value.
James 1:26 "If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself and your religion is worthless." NLT
2. Just because you are thinking about something and it is weighing heavily on your mind doesn't meant that now is the time to share it. I am a thinker. I can get very wrapped up in my own head and at times get to a point where I feel like I have to express everything I am thinking. Why? To have my thoughts validated or nullified by others? Because I've grown impressed with my own thinking and need to be affirmed for my genius? Because surely if an idea is consuming my thoughts it must be important to others as well? There is a time and a place for every word to be uttered. When I share a thought with someone just because I feel a need to get it out of my brain and hear myself say it out loud, without first considering who my audience is and whether or not it is really time to share that thought... I get in trouble. I either share with the wrong person, or share at the wrong time and end up having to eat my words.
Proverbs 21:23 "He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles." NASB
3. If there are not thoughts/words that are just between you and God, how close of a relationship do you really have with Him? One of the things that is so precious about my relationship with my husband is that there are words, thoughts and ideas that we have shared with each other that we haven't shared with anyone else on the planet. This makes our relationship special and develops trust and intimacy. Think of your best friend when you were a child and how you shared things with her/him that you didn't tell anyone else, and how that strengthened your bond. Some things need to remain between us and God - not to be secretive, but to build relationship, trust and intimacy with Him. I love the movie, Miracle on 34th Street (the newer version in particular). There is a scene where little Susan is struggling with whether or not to believe in Santa Claus and her mother suggests to her that she ask Mr. Kringle for something that she would never ask her mother for and then if she gets it on Christmas morning, she will know that he really is Santa Claus. If we never trust anything just to God (telling him and asking him about things we don't share with others), we won't have the deep, awe-inspiring pleasure of hearing/seeing him answer us in a personal way that proves who He is and how He feels about us. We'll settle for lesser manifestations, getting to know a God who loves the world but missing out on the God who loves us individually.
Matthew 6:6 - "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you." NLT
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!