Since time began, the tongue has communicated the most beautiful of thoughts, it has spoken great truths, it has told the world of great events, it has been used by the billions of souls who have professed the name of Jesus Christ, it’s been used by Jesus Christ when He was on earth, but it’s also been the downfall of many and lead to unimaginable evil.
Around 100 years before Christ, Roman philosopher, Cicero wrote how the eyes are the window of the soul. If this is true, then your mouth is the door to your heart and therefore it defines you. Throughout history people have come up with sayings that indicate the importance of how we use our mouths.
- Keep your tongue a prisoner and your body will go free.
- Think twice before you speak once.
- A long tongue shortens friendships.
- One reason a dog is such a lovable creature is his tail wags instead of his tongue.
- “Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue.” Persian proverb
Over seventeen of the thirty-one proverbs in the Old Testament refer to the mouth. That probably speaks a lot to the importance God has placed on the correct use of the tongue. Here are some verses from Psalms and Proverbs that describe its various characteristics:
a flattering tongue (Psalm 5:9)
a proud tongue (Psalm 12:3; 73:9)
a lying tongue (Psalm 109:2; Prov. 6:17)
a deceitful tongue (Psalm 120:2)
a perverted tongue (Prov. 10:31; 17:20)
a soothing tongue (Prov. 15:4)
a healing tongue (Prov. 12:18)
a destructive tongue (Prov. 17:4)
a mischievous and wicked tongue (Psalm 10:7)
a soft tongue (Prov. 25:15)
a backbiting tongue (Prov. 25:23)
Let’s face it, the words that come out from your mouth really do show your heart. Here are some thoughts.
Your mouth is an indicator of what’s happening inside
Our speech is a barometer of a range of aspects of our lives. It tells us when we’re stressed. It shows others when we’re frustrated. It tells us when we don’t care any more. But most of all it’s a clear indicator when you’ve been putting other things before your relationship with God. Show me someone who swears, gossips, lies or manipulates, and I’ll show you someone who is not walking closely with the Lord.
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” James 1:26 NIV
Your mouth should be used to praise God
Jesus’ younger brother James wrote to believers in the new church to help keep them on the right track. His letter told them that if their faith was authentic, it would be evident in their deeds. In James 3:9-12 he stated that we can’t praise God and blaspheme, or speak evil, at the same time. This is a contradiction that cannot coexist.
So, how closely do your words parallel your relationship with Christ? We hear many using the name of Jesus as a way of venting their frustrations. But we, who know Christ, can attest that his name provides hope, comfort, assurance, peace, and deliverance and should not be reduced to the level of human disdain.
You may not know this, but you will have to give account before God for every word you have spoken:
“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 NIV
God wants to use our speech
Our speech is powerful and we have to learn how to use it wisely. When you look through the Bible there are six ways in which God wants us to use our tongues to build and edify the Church.
- To call on His name and be saved
- To speak the truth
- To build people up
- To reflect our true hearts
- To draw us closer to Him
- To draw others closer to Him.
How we use our mouths is more important than we might think. It’s not just about whether we use swear words or not, it’s also about how we use it for God’s glory. When my children were growing up, my wife, Cornelia, and I used to sing this little song many of you will know. While it’s usually reserved for kindergarten aged school children, it wouldn’t hurt for those of all ages to reflect on the words.
Oh be careful little mouth what you say.
Oh be careful little mouth what you say.
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
So be careful little mouth what you say.
Don’t forget that the tongue is powerful. How are you using it?