“Hey, I just wanted to quickly apologize…”
I sent that text message out today. To three different people. THREE PEOPLE. I am ashamed to say that what came next was horribly hard for me. But I finished each text with an apology for running my mouth in one way or another.
One incidence was gossip.
One was anger.
One was for overusing sarcasm.
Sins of the tongue is one of the areas I am most guilty. I’m working on it. Hard. I have a sticky note in my car with Proverbs 18:21. My cell phone lock screen is Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
My prayers and journaling are daily focused on my tongue this week. And yet? While I am hyper vigilant? I am still letting my mouth run wild far too often.
A quick look tells me that the bible mentions gossip at least 12 times. (I’m using the Blue Letter Bible App, searching the NLT.) Tongue is 41 verses. Anger? 317 times in 307 verses. Of course, this list could go on and on. The point is? God is pretty clear on his stance on these things. And yet? I keep running my mouth.
James 3:5 tells us, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
Just soak that in for a moment. Have you started a forest fire with a small spark?
Recently in one of my life groups (Power of a Praying Wife) we talked about your husband’s reputation and how it can be destroyed so simply. (This is what really got me thinking on this topic, the idea that one simple word can ruin someone’s reputation.)
My gossip today wasn’t enough to ruin a person. It was simply with one person, who was very closely involved in the situation. It started as concern. It started with a genuine question as to how I should handle a situation. And it snowballed. All on me. I let it escalate. And I immediately felt guilt. But it took me HOURS to go to God. To tell him what I had done. (Not that he didn’t know already.) Then I knew I had to reach out to the person I had been talking to. Both for dragging her into it, and for asking her to help me stay accountable in the future.
Here’s the thing, we’ll never be perfect. James 3:8 even tells us that “No human can tame the tongue” — but we can try. We can strive. We can repent and ask for accountability where we know we struggle.
A wise woman once told me, before speaking you should ask yourself three questions. “Is it true? Is it Kind? Is it necessary?” If your answer is not a resounding YES to all three questions? It’s best to shut your mouth and walk away.
I think my most commonly prayed prayer is “Lord, set a guard at my mouth, keep watch at the door of my lips.” And while it doesn’t always work? I am more and more conscious of this effort. I am slower to anger. Less likely to gossip. And my sarcasm is (often) controlled.
So my challenge to you this week? Find some way to remind yourself, be it a note in the car, your phone lock screen or just simply asking yourself those three little questions before you speak. Find a friend to hold you accountable, if you feel this is an area your really struggle.