“You really have the gift of gab,” one man told me many years ago, when I first started in the ministry. He had pointed out something that I already knew: God had given me “a ready tongue.” That is, I speak easily. Words are my tools. The Lord first gave me that gift, and then He called me into the ministry to use that ability to work for Him.
I have no trouble talking. That’s my gift; that’s also been my greatest problem. Because I seem to always have something to say, I have struggled many, many years over the right use of my tongue. It has not been an easy battle.
Over the years, I heard various people saying things like, “Hold your tongue.” “Do you have to speak every word that comes to your mind?” “Do you always speak first and think later?” “Must you sound so harsh?”
Had I truly listened to what people were saying, I might have realized that God was trying to tell me something. But I ignored their comments and continued in my own stubborn ways. I know I have wounded people with my words in the past, and I am sorry for that. I’m also grateful that God has forgiven me.
Several years ago, I realized that if God was going to use my life, I had to gain control of my tongue—not to just stop talking, but to keep my tongue from evil, and my lips from speaking deceit, as the psalmist David says.
I had a choice. I could hurt people with my words—and I could do that well—or I could bring my lips into subjection to God. Obviously, I wanted to be subject to the Lord, but it was still a battle.
Our words are expressions of our hearts—of what’s going on inside us. If we want to know who a person really is, all we need to do is listen to their words. If we listen long enough, we learn a lot about them.
As I learned to listen to my own words, I also began to learn a lot about myself. Some of the things I learned did not please me, but they did help me realize that I had a character flaw that needed to be addressed. My words were not pleasing God, and I wanted them to. Once I confessed my failure to God, the victory came—not all at once and not perfectly, but God is patient with me. I’m growing, and part of my growth is keeping my lips from evil.
No matter how negative you are or have been, or how long you’ve been that way, God wants to change you. In the early days after my confession to God, I still failed more often than I succeeded, but every time I did succeed, I knew I was closer to God’s plan for my life. God can do the same for you.
It won’t be easy, but you can win. And the effort will be worth it.
Prayer Starter: Lord, help me use my mouth for right things. Put a watch over my mouth lest I sin against You with my tongue (see Psalm 141:3). Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You (see Psalm 19:14). I ask it in Jesus’ wonderful name. Amen.