Typically, it’s things we say and wish people didn’t remember that seem to stick the most. We would love to control which of our words people remember, but James 3 tells us that we can’t control the tongue. He actually says if we could, we’d control ourselves in EVERY other way. Though we won’t be able to control the tongue itself, we can change the things that might affect what comes out of our mouths.
An increasingly popular school of thought today is to just “speak your mind.”
In this world of heightened accessibility of information, we end up trying to justify ourselves by giving people insight into what we’re thinking. Is this wise? How often does this make things worse? Why can’t we just stop when things get tense or when we realize the other person is not listening? Why do we feel the need to have the last word?
"Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back," Proverbs 29:11 (NLT).
Even outside of an angry situation, we tend to divulge too much of our thought process. Why do we feel the need to always be right? And to prove it?
Let’s look back at the very beginning of mankind: the Garden of Eden.
Pop Quiz: what were the two trees in the garden? And what were the rules surrounding them?
Tree of Life - eat as much as you’d like.
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - do not eat from this one.
Our need to assert ourselves through our words comes back to the first mistake that we made in trying to be like God and know all right and wrong. It’s very human to want to know what is right, but we can get caught up in this and completely miss out on what God has for us.
God wanted us to eat from the Tree of Life. He wanted to walk with us.
So, as tempting as it can be to be right or to let people know that they’re wrong, God wants us to have life.
You may have been in a situation before where someone was right about something, but it just felt off in some way. You could understand their logic and even agree, but something just felt wrong. Could it be that they were speaking from their knowledge of good and evil but forsaking the fruit of life?
Often, we forget life. We miss out on God’s gift to us: life. And the thing is about true life: when you have it, you give it. We can easily find ourselves getting into the wrong stuff and get focused on right and wrong, but we just have to climb down out of that tree and get into the right things.
Speak it into your family, your city, your job.
Focus on bringing life to this world rather than justifying what you feel.
Do you want to change your world? Use your mouth to bring good into people’s lives.
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT).
When you find yourself speaking your mind, does it show this fruit?
Is it in love? Is it peaceful? Is it kind? Is it gentle? Are you in control of yourself and your emotions? Does it provide something good for people to remember about you?
If it doesn’t, remind yourself that although you may not be able to control your tongue, you can change your heart. The Word teaches us that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
If you want to change your words, start deeper.
If you still are having issues changing, remember that even though you can’t control your tongue, you can control when your mouth is open. Consider closing it more.