Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).
Every word we speak either benefits or harms.
Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, (death) but a man of understanding holds his tongue (life) (Proverbs 11:12)
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts (death), but the tongue of the wise brings healing (life) (Proverbs 12:18)
Most of us are spending more time with family during the summer months. Kids are home for the summer. Vacations occur. Extended family members visit.
Communication with family is more complicated than communication with friends.
I will review two reasons why.
1. Families have history.
Years of interaction can lead to emotional build-up. If I have been let down by person 100 times and have not done the work of forgiveness in my heart, when that person lets me down for the 101st time, my response will want to include the emotion of the previous 100 letdowns.
People tend to dismiss or underestimate the power of emotion. Emotions are physical. We don’t just get sad, we cry. We don’t just get stressed, we get knots in our stomach. Our heart races, our blood pressure rises and our diaphragm tightens . When left unattended and ignored, emotions store up inside of us and when triggered by circumstance, we find they are still physically there. Our entire emotional history with each family member sits ready to launch–often fueling our responses with inappropriate intensity and urging words to pour out of our mouths in knee-jerk reaction. The words spew out, unless we rely on God to stem the tide.
2. Families are not chosen.
We pick our friends because we like them. Friends are easy. However, we do not pick our family.
We did not pick our parents or siblings. We did not pick our mother or father-in-laws, or our brother or sister-in-laws.
And always remember, our children did not pick us. (gulp)
Some sets of family members do not naturally mesh. It takes work to communicate, and it takes work not to communicate.
When one of my friends first became a mother-in-law, someone gave her a horse’s bridle. She was instructed to hang the bridle somewhere in her house as a reminder to bridle her tongue. The idea was to let her now married son and new daughter-in-law have their own marriage without any interfering or unwelcome words from her.
So one day I saw a bridle in an antique shop.
Yes, I bought it, and it has hung on my bedpost for years since.
This is what I see first thing in the morning when I open my eyes.
When these two elements mix together in the hotbed of summer proximity, our tongue is tempted to hurl words.
I want to do it right.
A quick scan of a concordance makes me want to speak life:
…he who holds his tongue is wise (10:19)
The tongue of the righteous is is choice silver (10:20)
…but the tongue of the wise brings healing ((12:18)
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge (15:2)
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life (15:4)
I want to do it right, so I don’t do it wrong.
A quick scan of these verses also make me want to speak life also:
…from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife (6:24)
…but a perverse tongue will be cut out (10:31)
…but a lying tongue lasts only a moment (12:19)
…but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (15:4)
…he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble (17:20)
…so a sly tongue brings angry looks (25:23)
How do we pull this off?
..but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8).
Yup, only God can give us the ability to handle our tongues well in the fiery heat of summer spent with family.
The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:1)
Lord, today I give you my tongue for the rest of the summer. I stand against the lie that I can control my tongue. I can’t. I ask you to give me every answer to anything said to me, profitably contribute to conversation occurring around me, and respond well to any circumstance that happens to me.
Let’s speak words of life to our families this summer. This week our son turned 11 and our two grandchildren visited. I love these three children to pieces! I want to be a kind and loving mom and grandma-grandma.
Only God can make that happen.
Question for blog readers: Any tips on how to handle the tongue so God maintains control?
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