Talk the Walk

With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”  James 3:9-10

Have you ever said something to someone, then later, upon reflecting, regret that you spoke unwisely?

In my youth, when I spoke disrespectfully or with emotional malice, my Scottish Nana, without hesitation, snapped, “Haud yer wheesht (hold your tongue).” Regrettably, as an adult, I have since spoken unwisely and irreverently many times – in a personal and professional context. Why do we have a propensity to exploit, justify, or rationalize our own position, power, or pride by uttering thoughtless words? Why do we so often stumble to talk the walk?

Numerous times, Scripture emphasizes and contrasts our obligation to sound speech, wise words, and the unconscionable power of the tongue. In James chapter 3, James confronts our apparent and prevalent flaw. Reiterating Scripture’s counsel regarding speech etiquette, he reminds us that although the tongue is a small body part, it is a fire “no human being can tame… a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James emphasizes the consequence of unrestrained speech – stressing the contradiction of praising and cursing coming from the same tongue. Confronting this prevailing contradiction, he resolves that for Christ-followers, “this should not be.”

Is it possible to tame our tongue?

Only with God’s help.

Practically, think before speaking. Choose and use words wisely – intentionally avoiding gossip, soul-searing slander, emotional malice, and derogatory words that crush the spirit, scar the psyche, and deeply wound the Christ-cherished soul. Petition heaven’s counsel, abandon selfish ambition, seek wisdom’s gentleness, and season speech with immeasurable grace. Aspire to talk the walk – reflecting Jesus’ heart – preserving personal integrity and the other person’s dignity.

Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me for hurting and wounding someone with my thoughtless words. Help me to be conscious of how I speak to people. Empower me with words that reflect respect, righteousness, and my relationship with you. May my speech be seasoned with grace – intentional words that reflect integrity and communicate and cultivate dignity within my personal and professional spheres of influence.

Thought: I will invite the Spirit to direct my thoughts, words, and actions so that his love, wisdom, and compassion are manifested through me.

By Allan Mitchell
Used by Permission

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