When you think of the word, “self-control,” what comes to mind?
For some people, it’s having self-control over food, or indulging in certain pleasures or hobbies.
But when we look deeper into the meaning of this word, we realize that it’s not just talking about one certain thing. It can be referring to many things. The word “self-control" literally means just what it says, “having control over one’s self."
Self-control is a widely talked about fruit of the spirit. Self-control from food, self-control from anger, self-control from harmful substances and addictions like drugs, alcohol, and choosing bad options on the internet.
All those things are really important, but today we’re only going to talk about one of these categories. Today we’re going to talk about the power of the tongue. We’re going to talk about having control over our emotions and how words can destroy a relationship, crumbling right before our eyes.
That’s not a pretty picture, but it’s even more devastating when it happens to you, so let’s see how we can have self-control over our tongues and keep this from happening.
Let’s pretend we take ten people and put them into a room. These ten people all have something in common. None of them like each other. None of them can get along nicely. And it’s not because they leave their things laying around, or they take their shoes off and walk on the new clean carpet. It’s not because they take more than they give, or forget to buy gifts on special occasions. No, the true reason they can’t get along is because each of them have hard feelings against the other. They’ve built a brick wall around their hearts. And the reason? It’s because of the power of the tongue.
Imagine a heart.
This heart belongs to Cindy, a young woman with bright eyes and a bubbly personality. This isn’t your typical heart, mind you. It’s a heart that’s never been hurt, it’s never been harmed in any way. It’s soft and tender, loving and kind. That is, until Allie comes into the picture. Allie is Cindy’s older sister, and up until now, they’ve gotten along quite well. But something changed inside Allie, and not for the better. It all began by a simple negative comment. “You’re cake looks awful, Cindy,” Allie laughed at her sister's first attempts in baking. Cindy laughed along, but it was more to keep from crying than anything. Almost without even acknowledging it, a thin layer of bricks surrounded Cindy’s heart. But it was such a slight change, the layer of bricks so tiny, that Cindy didn’t even notice. But the comments continued. “You’re always bugging me, Cindy.” “Can’t you ever think on your own, Cindy?” “Cindy,your voice sounds awful! Don’t ever try out for the local talent show.” Layer by layer, brick by brick, a wall surrounded Cindy’s heart until there wasn’t even a single spot left uncovered.
We can take that entire story and go in so many directions. We could talk about the importance of guarding our hearts to keep from building those walls. We could talk about not keeping a record of wrongs, or being stuck in our past. We could talk about not letting these things define us. But today we're going to address the one thing that started this. The tongue.
The tongue is a very powerful weapon. It’s referred to time and again as “fiery darts,” or “sharp as a two-edged sword.”
So, how can we have self-control over our tongues?
First, we need to look at a few scriptures that speak on this topic:
1 Peter 3:10
“For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Ephesians 4: 29
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
Given those scriptures, what are some ways we can control our tongue?
1. Think before you speak
This might be the most obvious one, and it’s because you’ve probably heard it a lot during your life. If we think before we speak, then it would really cut down on the negative comments. But how do we do this? If you’re the kind of person who speaks hastily without thinking most of the time, then count to five whenever someone asks you a question. And count to five especially before you make a comment towards someone. You’d be surprised at how much negativity this cuts down!
2. Meditate on good things
They say, “what you put in your mind will come out through your words and actions.” And it’s true. So let’s fill our mind with godly things. Let’s read our Bibles every day, meditating on His words. Let’s listen to hymns and read wholesome books that will edify us, strengthen us in our spiritual walk, and bring us closer to the Lord. Let’s make sure that what we’re putting in, is worth sharing with others.
We must pray every single day that the Lord will give us a loving spirit and a kind tongue. We must pray that He will help us have control over our tongues, because, we can’t succeed in this alone. He is the only one who can help us do it.
Do you have difficulty having control over your tongue? You’re not alone, trust me on that! Have you found certain ways to help you in this? Comment below and let me know what they are. I’d love to hear them!
Let’s strive to make sure that EVERYTHING we do is bringing glory to His name!
With humble hearts, let’s all strive to become more like Christ and take these things to heart.
Let's all be joyful, willing, servants of our King.
I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas! Do you have a favorite memory from the holidays? Our family went Christmas caroling with our grandparents and that was so much fun!
Let me know what you did in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!