This morning as I smothered my piece of healthy, multi-grain toast with coconut oil instead of butter, I recalled the day I had told my taste buds, “Get used to it! It’s healthy and you’re going to learn to like it!” And I did, although it did take a few slices eaten with a wrinkled-up nose. But having read up on coconut oil and the virtues it offers the human body, I made the decision that I was more interested in having and maintaining good health far more than I was in appeasing my taste buds. My tongue had ruled/dictated/controlled my choice of spread for my bread long enough! I determined to override that choice for a better outcome in the long-haul. Much to my amazement, my tongue did eventually submit to my determination to make it conform to my will!
Hummmmmm…. I then thought to myself (I do that a LOT!), how very much this little example of ‘tongue’ control is like what the Word says about our tongue and it’s control – or lack thereof. For instance, there’s Psalm 17:3c that says, “I have PURPOSED that my mouth will NOT transgress.” If I transgress with my words (tongue) it is because I have MADE a CHOICE to do so. Heaven forbid!!
Psalm 34:13 says, “KEEP your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” And in Psalm 141:3 we read, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” We ask the Lord to set a guard but it is up to us to not push past that guard. Faith plus works. Controlling our tongue is a ‘team’ effort. The Holy Spirit gives us enablement IF we choose to use it.
Or how about, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3). To guard means to “watch over.” We are to watch what we allow our tongues to pass through our lips. Matthew 12:34b tells us, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What is the “abundance” in our hearts? That which we have stored in it. That which we have allowed to enter our minds through what we view: the types of literature we read, the kinds of movies and TV programs we watch, the off-colored or coarse jokes and conversations we listen to instead of walking away from them because we don’t want to “offend” someone. Does it occur to us that such offends the Holy Spirit within us? Does it cross our minds that the more we tolerate impure input into our minds, the more insensitive we become to the voice and nudgings of God’s Holy Spirit? He does not dwell in impurity.
Desensitizing is a gradual process and so subtle that most often it is not recognized until it has its victim completely in its clutches. This desensitizing has not occurred without the Holy Spirit having released repeated alarms within us that we made a conscious choice to ignore, all to the destruction of close, sweet fellowship with our Savior. And while we are to reach out to unbelievers in order to share with them the good news of eternal salvation in our Lord, to keep company regularly with those who make a mockery of that which we proclaim to believe will bring us corruption. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (I Corinthians 15:33). “… but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20b).
So… how does one go about changing a lifestyle habit? Proverbs 13:4b says “… the soul of the diligent (steady, earnest, and energetic efforts) is richly supplied.” We retrain, reprogram our way of thinking and communicating. Our hearts and our actions will be changed as we become more godly within which will emanate out to others. The Holy Spirit is all too ready to assist us, helping us with our self-discipline as we pursue a life of purity and righteousness that brings glory and honor to our Lord. In return, our communion with our Lord is closer, sweeter and richer. We find we have become a little more like our Savior as the Holy Spirit continues His relentless work in our innermost being to mold, shape and make us into our Lord’s image. These deep changes will be observed by those around us. Often it opens the door for us to share about the power of God at work in our lives as it transforms us with a more godly lifestyle.
“For lack of wood the fire goes out…” (Proverbs 26:20a). An uncontrolled tongue can either start a fire (James 3:6) or add more “wood” to an existing fire. Do we build, feed or put out fires with our tongues?
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). Which of these two is the product of our tongue?
Oh, yes… this business of controlling our tongues is a LIFE-LONG undertaking and one which we cannot afford to let up on or back off from. It stays poised to self-launch at the slightest nudge.