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Presented September 9, 2007
HOW SHOULD I USE MY TONGUE? (1)
Last year I presented a series of lessons examining the sins of the tongue. In that study we noted various categories of sins of the tongue. The study was well received. When I concluded that study, I mentioned that I would like to also examine how to PROPERLY use our tongues. Today, I would like to begin a study of that subject.
When it comes to the use of our tongues, we seem to become passionate and emphasize how NOT to use it. We have a tendency to focus on the negatives. When we judge our speech, we often evaluate ourselves by what we are doing wrong. If there is error, we certainly need to make ourselves aware of it and do all we can to change. But what about our failures to use our tongues as we ought to be using them? On one occasion, when Jesus warned about the use of the tongue He said, “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mark 12:37). Notice how Jesus not only said we could be condemned by our words. He also noted that we will be justified by them. It is with that in mind that I present this study.
What does the Bible say about how we SHOULD use our tongues? What kind of things do we need to say to be justified by our words?
In this lesson I would like to begin a study of the proper use of the tongue. Unlike our last study which lasted ten weeks, I intend for this study to last three weeks. Today we want to address what the Bible says in general about how to use our tongues and some things we can do help us properly speak. Next week I want to address the positive use of the tongue – in praising God, teaching others, encouragement, etc. The final lesson will address the negative use of the tongue – exposing false doctrine, reproof and rebuke. We also want to notice when NOT to speak. That is my intent for this study.
I. What does the Bible say about using our tongues properly? Much!
The tongue is NOT a curse. It is
NOT a necessary evil.
It is good and was given to us by God to be used for good. Our ability to use our tongues to communicate set us apart from the rest of God’s creation on earth.
So much good can be accomplished with our speech. While there is certainly a time for silence, there is also a time to speak up! Consider that:
It is by the word of God that the world was created. Genesis 1 says over and over, “And God said…and it was so.” (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, etc.) And by His words it is sustained and reserved for judgment (2 Peter 3: 5-7). Every recorded gospel sermon was delivered by word of mouth. Every convert was taught the gospel by word of mouth. In the Bible, words led to repentance and prevented wars. Words served to encourage the downtrodden. They were used to convey useful information that sometimes saved lives. At other times, words cleared up misunderstandings. Words were used to glorify God and to appeal to God for help. Truly, words are a good thing!
b. Matthew 12:34 – out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
· Psalm 19:14, “let the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight…”
· Psalm 37:30-31, “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The law of God is in his heart, none of his steps shall slide.”
c. Proverbs 15:26 says, “The words of the pure are pleasant.”
d. Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
e. Ecclesiastes 12:11 says, “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one shepherd.” NOTE: The idea of the goad in this text was a prod, used to steer an animal in the right direction. We all know what a well driven nail will do – fasten that which needs to be fastened.
f. 1 Timothy 4:12 tells Timothy to be an example to the believers, “in word, in conduct, in love, …”
g. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
h. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with fault, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
i. Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord.”
II. The Blessings of using the tongue properly.
1 Peter 3:10 – do you want
life and long days? Dealing with how we as brethren are to treat each
other, including the way we ought to talk to one another, Paul quotes Psalm
It is possible for words properly spoken to keep us out of trouble? Absolutely. Well placed words CAN save our lives.
Proverbs 21:23 says, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles.”
Prov. 12:18 says “the tongue of the wise promotes health.”
Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”
Proverbs 18:21 - Death and
life are in the power of the tongue.
While we emphasize the “death”, what about the life?
The tongue can build
friendships –Communication builds
friendships. Solomon wrote often of friends. Consider these verses:
Proverbs 18:24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (NOTE: NASU says, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin…”) Our focus here is on the latter phrase.
Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
While none of these verses specifically mention words, the challenges mentioned imply conversations taking place. A true friend is one who you can go to with your cares and concerns. He/she will listen to your words and give you words of help and comfort. A true friend will NOT reveal your secrets. We ALL need friends, but especially someone (or a small handful) that we can go to with ANYTHING and know that they care and will always be there.
It reflects what our heart is
like. It can reveal a good
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 as mentioned above speaks of what the tongue says comes from the heart. When you listen to the words one uses, how he uses them and how it accords with his life, you can get a pretty good idea of how honorable one is. What do your words say about you?
e. Consider also the blessings that accompany praising God – God is pleased with those who praise Him, with the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). He blesses those who bless Him.
It can demonstrate a life
that is in control. It can help you DEVELOP self-control. We MUST learn to control our
tongues. While holding our tongue is NOT always a sign of self-control, when we
don’t hold our tongue it verifies that we do NOT have control. We mentioned
earlier, Ephesians 4:29 which notes that no corrupt speech is to proceed out of
our mouths. That follow vs. 26 which says, “Be angry and do not sin.” When
you show self-control, it can build trust and relationships. It can also build
Also, don’t forget James 1:19, we are to be swift to hear, slow to speak and SLOW TO ANGER.
III. Keys to using our words properly
Pray for God’s help and
In Psalm 141:3, David said, “Set a guard, o Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips…” David knew he needed and he wanted God’s help. So he asked Him!
Pray for wisdom in what to say -
Be slow to speak.
James 1:19, Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many….
Prov. 17:27-28- “He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.”
c. Weigh your words. Realize that words mean things. A word can mean different things in different cultures and situations. Strive to know what you mean when you say something and portray that as clearly as possible.
Let them be good words
(wholesome)- words that are healthy and
Prov. 15:4 – “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
1 Timothy 6:3 speaks of wholesome words.
Let them be timely and
Prov. 15:23, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth; and a word spoken in due season, how sweet it is!”
Proverbs 15:28, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.”
Proverbs 15:1-2, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”
Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his souls from troubles.”
Prov. 18:13, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and a shame to him.”
– Proverbs 31:26 – the tongue of the virtuous woman is the law of kindness.
Our demeanor is to be gentle (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-26, Galatians 6:1, etc.).
This does not mean there is not a time for rebuke or harsh words – they ARE a proper use of the tongue, but only when in their appropriate context. And rebuke and a harsh message is no excuse to be hateful in your conversation.
Prov. 16:24 – pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”
Thus we see the importance of striving to have a good tongue. In this lesson, it has been my goal to help us understand that it is not enough to simply refrain from evil speech – we NEED to have good speech to fully please God and do all of His will. We will study some of these proper attitudes in coming weeks.