I have had a long journey in learning to speak life, rather than criticize, condemn, and manipulate others with my words. I did not grow up with an understanding of boundaries, nor a respect for the perspectives and limits of myself or others.
But, the Lord is faithful to redeem. And, redeem He surely does!
“The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.” ~ Proverbs 18: 21
Even before my journey as a wife and mother began, I had quite a bit of experience with the wisdom of this scripture.
I remember one time in my teen years speaking rudely to a guy friend of mine, essentially belittling him with a sarcastic remark made at his expense, which clearly hurt his feelings and angered him. I felt terrible about the comment for literally WEEKS afterwards, ailed with guilt and suffering from having hurt him.
After dealing with my guilt for a few weeks, I finally got up the courage to go to him humbly and apologize for the nasty comment, so I did. In this case, though, the death that had come had not been to his heart, but mine. He barely even remembered what I was talking about and wrote it off with the flick of his hand.
“Don’t worry about it.”
I’ve never forgotten that experience and the lasting effect that a word spoken in haste can have on a person, whether to the hearer or the speaker. Sadly, though, it has taken me far longer to learn the deep truth of this scripture even in my own home as a wife and a mother. That which was true in my early young adulthood remains true today: the tongue holds a great power, whether to bring life or death.
Are You Using Your Tongue to Speak Life, or Death?
In the early years of my marriage I remember plenty of times when I used my tongue as a weapon of destruction. I wielded my weapon well, as one trained and purposeful in a fierce ability to strike the intended target.
A subtle criticism here, a dash of passive aggression there, and before you knew it, marital discord and an emasculated husband were the order of the day.
What did I think I would accomplish with my rude and demeaning words?
Well, I actually was under the seductive lie that somehow my words would make my husband “rise to the challenge” of “being a man” and “taking responsibility.”
Sigh, what a lie it was.
The truth is all it brought to our marriage was a husband who resented me for “trying to make him change” and a miserable and joyless wife.
That was when The Lord got a hold of me.
I still remember the day that The Lord called me on my unholy and disobedient ways. He called me out of my abyss and told me that I had to get out of His way if I truly wanted to bring about a holy and lasting change in my husband (read more on that story here).
I deeply did, but I had no idea how to do it. So I just prayed, “Help me, Abba! Help me to get out of Your way.” And He did.
For the next two years He taught me step by step how to use my tongue for His glory and for His Kingdom.
Little did I know that I would again have to face this issue in my own heart and understanding with the upbringing of my children. I would again be brought face-to-face with my own heart issues and too high expectations, revealing another level of my deep need and gratitude for the salvation and forgiveness found in Christ.
It was a kindness of Yahweh to expose my iniquity and reveal a serious area of need for His healing touch.
Learning the Homemaker’s Wisdom
“A wise woman builds a house and the foolish woman destroys it with her hands.” ~ Proverbs 14:1
The more children I had, the more I learned of the deep-seeded destructive methods of my heart. All of the same behaviors I had to unlearn in being a good helpmeet for my husband came crashing back on my head as I learn how to be a godly mother.
My Abba was so good to open my heart to His Word as I would I read it for help and understanding. The scripture above was a poignant one for my soul for many years, and continues to be when I struggle with whatever expectations I have going on in my own little personal mental pseudo-reality.
The Ways of Yahweh are not like ours. His Way actually leads to repair and creation, not destruction and devastation.
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9 Things to Ask Yourself Before You Open Your Mouth
Here are some things to consider before you utter words of death over yourself, your husband, or your children:
- Is that object/thing/item more valuable than the relationship you have with the person to whom you are about to speak?
- Is it more significant, in the big picture, to encourage a person to help, or to have a task done perfectly?
- Are the words you are about to utter words of encouragement and praise, or words of criticism and condemnation?
- If the same words were said to you, would you feel uplifted and empowered to try again, or defeated and deflated without hope of ever succeeding?
- Can the same goal within you be accomplished with gentle, kind, and loving words without threat, condemnation, or criticism?
- Have you taken the time to look for things to praise, whether large or small?
- Are you taking captive any thoughts that would be displeasing to The Lord?
- Are you focusing your mind in obedience to Philippians 4:8 (“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things”)?
- Have you stood and given thanks to Yahweh for all His many blessings over your life?
It Isn’t Always Easy to Control the Tongue…But, It’s Worth It
Practicing the character trait of tongue control is not always easy, especially when we step even deeper into the root of the tongue, which is the heart. But, Yahweh is faithful to redeem that which has been poisoned, to restore that which has been broken down, and to heal that which has been diseased.
The more we submit our hearts to His loving guidance, the more our tongues will become a horn for the pronouncement of His blessings!
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” ~ Proverbs 31: 26
What About You?
Do/Have you too struggled with controlling the tongue? What successes has our Abba given to you in your journey of obedience with Him?