October 12, 2009
Taming the Tongue
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control" (Galatians 5:22 NIV).
Friend To Friend
Martha is a sweet older woman who is in the intermediate stages of Alzheimer's disease. Perhaps one of the most radical changes in her behavior, besides memory loss, is her inability to control her tongue. Martha has always used her words in a positive way, but in these latter years, her words have become unrestrained. Her ability to keep unkind or hurtful words from escaping her lips is impaired. She can't help it. It is part of the disease that is ravaging her mind. But watching my dear friend has helped me realized the importance of restraining our tongues. It is a sign of physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
When I was young, I loved reading the story of the stately steed, Black Beauty. In my early teens, I enjoyed visiting my friend Cammie and riding horses on her parents' dairy farm. We often clicked our heels and raced through the fields with reckless abandonment.
The horse is a powerful animal, yet with the tug of the reins or the tap of a heel, he will submit to his master's bidding. On the other hand, a wild stallion that has not been brought under the control of a master is of very little use.
In the Bible, we are instructed to have a spirit of gentleness which tempers the words we speak (Galatians 5:23). The Greek word for gentleness is prautes, and suggests a wild horse that has been tamed. Unfortunately, in our modern society, the word gentleness connotes being weak. However, the Greek word means anything but weak. Picture a muscular steed, proudly holding his head, poised to move with speed and power, nostrils flaring, but at the same time, under his master's control. It is the picture of a warhorse under the control of its master. That is a true picture of prautes - gentleness.
The same word, prautes, is translated "meek" in the King James Version. When Jesus said He was "meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29), He was saying He was submitted to God - mightily powerful but under God's control. Only when we submit our tongues to God will we have the ability to use our words for good. Meekness isn't weakness; it's power under control. It is taming and training our tongues to be under the submission and control of the Holy Spirit.
Let me give you an example. Oh, I hate to admit this, but I fear many sisters will relate - the dents in my armor attest to it.
Before I became a Christian, I was very "gifted" with a quick sarcastic wit. Have you ever been in an argument and two hours later thought of a great comeback or slam remark? Not me. I could think of them on the spot. I was good - so good. Why, I could have opened up a side business feeding disgruntled wives, employees and friend's quick comebacks through earphones during confrontations. However, after I accepted Christ as my Savior, it didn't take the Holy Spirit long to convict me that my tongue was not glorifying God. Sure, it brought some laughs, but Jesus wasn't smiling. So I began the arduous task of taming the tongue.
I memorized Job 40:4, "I put my hand over my mouth" and bit my tongue. It was hard letting all those good sarcastic comments go to waste, but I knew they were only fit for the garbage heap.
That was over thirty years ago. On many occasions, when someone is telling me about a confrontation with a family member or a co-worker, those quick witted remarks still pop up in my mind like a cue card on the stage. When a store clerk offers a snide remark, I can usually think of one more snide. So where's the victory? The victory comes when I choose not to let the words out of my mouth. When I lasso the words before they have a chance to run out of the gate. When I offer blessings rather than cursing. When I put on the humility of Christ and take the comments without the retaliation. That, my friend, is choosing to walk in the Spirit instead of choosing to walk in the flesh. It can only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit, and it becomes easier with practice.
Heavenly Father, I pray that the fruit of the Spirit will grow in my life today. I pray that the evidence of that fruit in my life will be in the words I speak to others. Help my fruit to be sweet today. Show me where I need to clip off unproductive branches that hinder healthy growth.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
OK, girlfriend, I was honest with you today. Are you willing to be honest with someone about an area that you need to change? Accountability is a powerful tool for change. If there is an area in your life that God has convicted you needs to change, tell a girlfriend and ask her to hold you accountable. Ask her to pray with you about the desired to change and invite her to ask you about your progress. That's what girlfriends in God are for!
I love hearing from my GiGs. If you would like to comment on today's devotion, visit www.sharonjaynes.com/blog .
More From The Girlfriends
Today's devotion is taken from Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Word. In this book, you can explore the power you possess, the people you impact, the potential for change, and the profound possibilities. As you harness this mighty force, you will begin to use words to speak life to those around you. This book also has a companion Bible study guide. Get one for yourself, or gather a group of girlfriends to learn and grow together.
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