In our house, we are dachshund people. We are particularly fond of our 2 long-haired mini-weenies, Louie and Ludacris, aka, Luda. (Before you ask, yes, he is named after the rapper.)
Overall, they are sweet, mild mannered, and obedient dogs, with one major exception: my husband and I cannot seem to reign in their propensity to bark at anything and everything. I mean, they are SO. LOUD.
Short of using physical force or muzzling them, (Please hold your emails to Peta… our dogs are living the cushiest, most non-abusive lives, I assure you) we have no control over their mouths. They are small, fur-covered sirens for every occasion: “mail’s here!” “The chickens are grazing! This is your WARNING chickens!” “Is that a hat??? We HATE hats! How offensive!” “HEY MOM! This person has been in our house for 20 minutes now! You seem totally fine with it, but still… They move sometimes, so SOUND THE ALARM! Awwwooooooooo!!!”
While being compared to a dog isn’t the most flattering analogy, this is in many ways, very true of us. God, in his generosity, does not force His will on us, not even our speech. He does not muzzle us, he does not beat us into submission when we won’t be quiet. The only way for our tongues to be tamed is to submit ourselves fully to His will.
James 3 has a lot to say about the tongue, and given the premise of this blog, you better believe we will be camping out in that string of verses quite a bit in the future. For now, lets narrow it to verse 8 which makes the particularly bold statement, that “no man can tame the tongue.”
When I have glossed over this verse in the past I have hurriedly and wrongly taken this to mean that the tongue cannot be tamed, like, at all. I have somehow omitted God from this word wrangling scenario and just determined that ‘we will all struggle with this unruly instrument until the day we die and we will simply have to do our best to keep the verbal earth-scorching to a minimum.’
Despite our best efforts and our desire to be pleasing to God, we cannot control this very small but very significant part of our body on our own strength. We must surrender it to God fully each day and allow our words to be directed by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ sobering statement in Luke 6:45 gives us clear direction as to where we can look to find the root of our destructive expressions “…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Right or wrong speech isn't an issue of the mouth, or the mind. It's an issue of the heart.
Our speech speaks to what sits on the throne of our hearts. Often times, I find my speech reflecting myself, robed and crowned in all my “glory”, seated in God’s rightful place. In the moment, it feels good. In the moment I am often witty and hilariously self-indulgent. People may be drawn to that side of me for a time, but that is an ill-fated scenario.
If people are drawn to me and my words under the sad rule of myself: Jenni’s Kingdom, party of 1, they will either a.) lose interest quickly when they realize I have nothing of substance to offer them or b.) elevate me to a standard that I cannot maintain. It is inevitable…. I will ultimately fail them.
BUT JESUS. (Yes, that sums it up. I know it’s not technically a sentence, but what do I really need to add?) When He sits, in His overwhelming abundance, on the throne of your heart, your tongue can become a megaphone for an outpouring of verbal grace, peace, and hope.
It can also sit still. (Jesus, in my case especially, THANK YOU FOR THAT.)
I have found, in all my earthly possessions, that my tongue has been the most difficult to turn over to Him, because with it, I have to surrender my pride… my freedom to say whatever I feel has to be fully replaced by what the King of my heart says and feels. It is an everyday, every minute, every hour endeavor.
And here’s why that surrender is so, so good: There is no emptiness in His Word. The Word of God is brimming, overflowing, with life. A single word whispered from His lips has greater impact than a million of our own words amplified in the world's largest arena. In the end, our freedom of speech in its purest form, is found in a tongue held captive by the One who made it all.
Respond along with the community. Leave a comment below and let us know:
How do the things that fill your heart influence the words you say? When you consider the gift we have been given in language and speech, what do you find yourself most often taking for granted? What are you most grateful for?
Take time to prayerfully examine your speech. Ask God to reveal how you can remove those blockages and make room for Him to take His rightful place on the throne of your heart.