I have a problem.
I’m going to be really honest with you right now. One reason being that I believe being open about your struggles and emotions will allow others to open up about their own, and the second reason is that I want to change. And the first step to a true heart change is confessing your sin out loud. Owning it.
So here goes. What do I struggle with? I struggle with holding my tongue. You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about letting out a snippy word when someone upsets me, gossiping when I get around my girlfriends, or simply talking on and on when I really should be listening. At a time when it seems that everyone is focused on changing everyone else, I think it’s time I focus on changing myself.
I’ve always known this was something I needed to work on. There are tons of verses throughout scripture that encourage you to hold your tongue. But is it really that big of a deal? Well, this verse really slapped me in the face a couple of days ago:
If any man thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is worthless. James 1:26
In other words, if you profess Christianity or claim to be a devout worshipper of God, and you do not keep a tight rein on your words and practice self-control, you’re actually lying to yourself!
This verse comes after James was encouraging the church to not only be hearers of the Word, but be doers of the word. And after a weekend spent with some of my closest friends and a lot of yapping on my end, I knew this verse was perfectly placed in my heart at the right time.
You see, I like to talk. I like making people laugh and I like “being myself” without any inhibition on my words. Though, often times I lay down at night and think, “Man, I probably shouldn’t have said that earlier.”
I’m writing about this because I know that I’m not alone. How do I know? I see it in Twitter feeds, on Facebook comments, on the news, and on talk shows. There are all these things we want to say, we feel justified in saying them, and we really feel like we just want to VENT. Though, that doesn’t mean we should say it. By the way, the Bible says something about venting, too.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11
How many times have you said something that you wish you could take back? Or, how many times have you “vented” about something or someone, only to find that your heart does not feel lighter, but heavier? Or how many times have you written a comment on social media that does not reflect the heart of Christ?
Are there times when we should speak up? Yes, but only if it is guided from a place of love and truth. While God himself experiences a righteous anger, He is love, so he cannot be angry without also coming from a place of love. And if we’re honest, again pulling from scripture, the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, because as author Jon Bloom says, “the anger of man is more concerned with man than with God.” Righteous anger is concerned about what God is concerned about. Period.
I think we’d like to say we’re operating from a place of “righteous anger” when we’re commenting, yelling, or venting, but something in me says that’s not exactly the case. Let me say this again, if we aren’t coming from a place of true, deep, supernatural love, then it is not righteous anger, and we should probably hold our anger back and think about a better way to handle the situation before we speak.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, I agree. But this is what the Word of God says.
I’m going to meditate on James 1:26 (and the verses below) for a while, and I will ask God for help in holding my tongue when necessary. If I’m angry, prideful, careless, or tempted to gossip, I pray that I will remember that every inch of my life is aimed at bringing God glory, not myself. This might mean that I talk a lot less than I do now, and that’s okay. Sacrificing a few words here and there is nothing compared to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus gave to you and me on the cross.
It’s time to get serious about representing the love of Christ. It’s time to bridle my tongue. It’s time to be a doer of the Word. Will you join me?
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:27-28
Caitlin Jordan is the assistant editor for TheCourage. She is passionate about the importance of transparency and loving those that disagree with Christian beliefs. Caitlin lives with her husband, Ryan, in Dallas, Texas.