When my daughter was little I used to call her Chatterbox-Touchalot. As you may assume from that nickname, she NEVER stopped talking (the other part of that name was that she just HAD to touch anything that came into her sphere…taking her to Wal-Mart was fuuuuunnn). She used to get so aggravated with me when I called her that as she got older. I still thought it was funny 😁…she just had no sense of humor.
Words, words, words. They’re everywhere. Everyone has something to say. Even me, apparently, on this platform. Everyone has an opinion about something. There’s commentaries on every platform of information, opinions on this, comments on that. You just can’t get away from it. Facebook arguments that go on for days and centuries between people who wouldn’t know each other if they passed on the street!
We women tend to use words like they’re gonna be outlawed tomorrow. Why say 2 words when 42 will do…that kind of thing. I know I couldn’t tell a short story if you paid me to. I wonder how often I say things that I just don’t pay attention to? Just random words falling out of my mouth. Maybe there’s someone else out there who is as guilty as I of just…not…being…able…to…shut…up.
Makes me think of Mark’s gospel account of the Mount of Transfiguration. You know, when Peter, James and John saw Jesus transformed in all His Glory, with Moses and Elijah to boot. Peter pipes up suggesting to Jesus that they “make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. For he did not know what to answer, for they became terrified.” (Mark 9:5-6) Basically he made that suggestion because he was scared and didn’t know what to say. “Why not just say nothing at all?” we arm-chair quarterbacks say from the glass house we’re sitting in.
I’ve been in that situation. Just spewing words because I was scared and didn’t know what else to say. We can’t stand silence, can we. Got to fill it with something, even if it’s nonsense.
I’ve also used my tongue as a sword, cutting someone right down to the bone. I’ve been the recipient of it too. I’m sure we all have been both victim and perpetrator of that particular verbal crime. I’ve casually slandered someone. I’ve flippantly defamed someone’s character. How do I know I’ve done this without listening to a recording of my conversations? (I do try to make sure I don’t put someone down or say bad things about them, after all.)
Well I know this because I hold the title of the Queen of Road Rage. And in the course of my road raging I have certainly shouted slurs against someone’s character, doubts about the legitimacy of their birth, and called them everything in the book.
Those examples may be pretty universally accepted “misuses” of the tongue. But Jesus has shown me other misuses that I’m guilty of. I’ve spoken up in a class with the motivation of being “teacher’s pet” because I know this concept, or I’ve read that book, etc., so people think I’m smart. Confession time: I’ve asked what looked like a legitimate question in a bible class so that I could casually insert the factoid that I’ve read the book of Leviticus. (I guess because I felt like I was literally slogging through it, I wanted a pat on the back from someone that I had accomplished it. I also wanted the people around me to think that I was a great Christian, really walking with the Lord – because why else would you read Leviticus?) It boils down to me just wanting attention.
I’ve also stepped right in front of my Lord so many times. A situation is presented to me and I spout off holy rhetoric like it’s Moses coming down the mountain. I can just picture the Holy Spirit in my mind’s eye standing there tapping His holy foot waiting for me to hush so He can say what needs to be said. (Aren’t you glad He’s more patient with us than we ourselves would be?)
Most may be familiar with the passage in the book of James that talks about the tongue. James 3:5 says “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” Verse 6 goes on to say: And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
Well wow. The tongue is set on fire by hell. Goodness.
Proverbs also has a lot to say about the tongue and words. “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise.” “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.”
These were my focus verses this morning, which started the train of thought for this post. Taped up on the wall above my computer is Ephesians 4:29 which says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
You know what I took away from these verses…? Melissa, shut up! Just stop talking. And if you do talk, make sure what you’re saying is wholesome and beneficial, and not self-aggrandizing or hurtful. And above all, make sure it’s truthful!
I know I’m not the only one out there who struggles with this. I also know I’m not the only one Jesus wants to set free from the danger of the tongue. I don’t want a troubled soul, but I know I’ve had one after saying something I shouldn’t have.
I thank my Lord that He is bringing this to my attention, and I pray that I will heed Him and begin to lock my tongue back behind my teeth.
It would be so much easier if He would just duct-tape my mouth, though.