Guarding Our Tongue

Perhaps more than anything else the Bible warns us to control our tongues. Solomon, who was blessed with great measures of wisdom, tells us “Whoso keepeth his mouth and tongue keepeth his soul from troubles,” (Proverbs 21:22-24). How do we keep our mouth and tongue so we do not fall into trouble? Do we hide it and conceal it behind our lips as to prevent ever making offense?

Foolish it would be if we never used the gift of speech that God has given us. We most certainly must be a good steward of the ability to speak. I Peter 4:10-11 instructs us that every man that receives the ability to minister and speak must use that gift, so God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.

How must we use this gift of speaking to glorify God? We must use our tongue as the lame beggar who went walking, and leaping, and praising God as a witness to all those who were around Him and were astounded by His ability to walk. We must use our tongue, even in the simplest things, to be a witness of the truth. If we fail to tell the truth when we are asked something as meaningless as how tall we are then how can we expect to be able to hold to the truth of God’s word which is offensive to many? There is also according to Ecclesiastes 3:7 “a time to keep silence.” As young people it is especially important to have this time of silence and listen to the wisdom of our parents, grandparents, and others who have wisdom from age and experience that we lack. It is also important that we use our tongue to communicate with others and God. It is essential that we communicate with God because our life in prayer is a reflection of our spiritual life.

God instructs us also that the tongue is as a devouring fire (Isaiah 30:27). Certainly, we must be careful in the use of this devouring fire. There is that use of the tongue as a fire which burns down others so we commit the sin of murder towards them and fail to be edifying in our communication. There are also many curse and swear words that, to the world, have become normal expressions. Many will say, “I know that my friends are not offended and I do not mean these words to be wickedness.” Perhaps our friends are fine with us saying things and maybe we are somewhat innocent in our use of such words, but is it acceptable before God? We always must come before God the judge, and the God whom we live our lives to glorify and please. Can we truly testify that no corrupt communication flows from our mouth, and that our conscience is holy before God?

It is a great temptation, especially given the world we live in, to say the phrases “O my God” and “O my Word”. These phrases have become the normal exclamation for surprise. God’s name is fearful and worthy of making one stop and pause with awe and respect. There is no word we can utter forth with our tongue that is as fearful as God’s name. According to the Heidelberg Catechism Q.A. 99 we must not profane or abuse the name of God. To profane something is to make it common. Therefore, the third commandment forbids any taking of God’s name and pulling it down from its lofty place. Often, we do realize that saying this phrase as an exclamation of surprise is wrong so then we change the wording a little bit and say, “O my goodness,” or “O my gosh.” It is good we try to change our bad habits, but these are not innocent phrases either. Mark 10 recounts the story of one who came running to Jesus and came to him saying good Master. Jesus said why callest thou me good for there is none good, but one, that is, God. Even Jesus would not allow someone to call him good. Should we then say O my goodness? (If you are interested Reverent Huizinga had a sermon on “Our Use of God’s Name” which spoke and gave a complete reasoning why we should avoid all phrases contained in the initials OMG. See the link below.

May we all be active in our efforts to please God with our tongues and pray the words of Psalm 141:3-4, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity…”

Luke Christian Potjer

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