Have you ever said something you wished you could take back? Silly question. We all have. But what if we could stop the words before they tumbled out in the first place? That would be a win-win for everybody. Click & Tweet!
I remember taking my son, Steven, to an amusement park just before he began fourth grade. It was hot, the lines were long, and I began to feel queasy from being gyrated and jerked to sudden stops from 60 miles per hour. Feeling quite the martyr, I was just about to remind Steven how lucky he was to have a mother like me to bring him to an amusement park. But before the words escaped my mouth, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me. Was that what I really wanted to say? Would those words make Steven feel “lucky” or would they make him feel guilty, as though he owed me something?
Instead of saying my initial thought, I wrapped my arms around my precious young son and said, “Steven, I am so lucky to have a son like you that I can bring to an amusement park.”
With those words, a dimpled smile spread across his precious face, and I was thankful for the splash of the watery roller coaster that disguised the tears streaming down my face.
If I had spoken that first sentence, Steven would not have felt lucky to have a mom like me at all. He would have felt guilty and that he needed to pay me back for my “kindness.” However, the revised version made him feel special, treasured and loved.
The writer of Proverbs tells us, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” (Proverbs 13:3 NLT). Here’s one thing I know for sure: Opening our mouth with the wrong words at the wrong time can ruin everything. It would have ruined Steven’s day…and it would have ruined mine.
Here’s a smidgen of what the Bible tells us about the power of holding our tongues.
There is a time for everything…”a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7 NIV).
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18 NIV).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).
I had success with my words that day at the amusement park, but not every day has been a banner day. I have used my words to tear down instead of build up. I have failed many times. “The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity,” as James so aptly points out (James 3:6 nasb). It can only be tamed by the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and practice.
So let’s practice! The next time you get ready to say something to someone that will tear them down rather than build them up, zip it up. Then think of something positive to say to that person instead. You can do it. I know you can!
Heavenly Father, please keep guard over the door of my lips. I ask that the Holy Spirit convict me of careless words before they slip from my lips. Help me to think about how words would make me feel before I speak them to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
My best-selling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others and Bible study guide are being re-released April 21st with twenty-percent new content, including a new chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Pre-order before April 21, 2020 and receive a free downloadable e-book of Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence plus much more! Click here for details.
That was an awesome word. I truly needed that especially with all that’s going on.
Ruined so many chances to do better.
It is hard to teach an OLD Dog, new ways! Working on it! May be too late to salvage any relationships.
At the age of 80, sometimes it seems that all hope has passed.
It’s never too late Maddie! (I love your name.) I’m not too far behind you in years, but I believe even if the other person doesn’t respond the way we would want them too, it will give you peace to reach out to those relationships that need healing! It’s hard to reach this OLD dog new tricks too, but nothing is impossible for God!
I have wanted to read this book but haven’t had a chance yet. I’m excited that you have a new rendition and have it on my book list.
So many things you write about remind me of how I was raised. I am thankful I have a Heavenly Father to rely on and know I mater to Him. I wish I could say the same for my earthly family. Sometimes I feel so alone.
My daughter is on a trip with her friends and they were looking forward to a train ride they were going on but it got canceled and everything else got shut down so everyone wants tti go home earlier. She is very angry ( understandably ) and tired of always having to be the positive one. I literally looked at my email and saw your message and I had to send it to her right away before something was said out of anger. Thank you for your message. I love how God puts it there at the right time 🙂
Thanks so much for your encouraging words this morning, Sharon. I needed to be reminded. God has been working on my heart in these areas of Mom life. I’m so grateful for all my children. The ones I gave birth to and the ones God blessed me with thru marriage. A little less complaining, a little less reminding and a whole lot more loving. Besides, God sees all our sacrifices, both great and small for our families.
A friend sent this to me. I’d love to sign up to receive these. Do they come daily?
We can sure use that closing prayer right now! Super challenging in so many homes right now, with our kids being cooped up at home with us. Always look forward to your emails, Sharon!
Wow, sooo true. I feel the conviction but the Holy Spirit right now. This word is for me, oh Lord. I say the exact same thing to my son a lot of times and to my husband too. My eyes and ears have been opened by this article, thank you Holy Spirit, thank you Sharon. May the Lord help me to zip it if my words do not glorify His name. Thank you Jesus
Thank you for your sweet words of biblical wisdom. I too often open my mouth and regret what spills out in anger or frustration. It’s an area I continuously ask the Lord for His help with. May the Lord bless you in your ministry as you reach others like myself.
This has blessed me this morning. I did something to my five year old daughter that hurt her feelings. The new reality has been challenging working from home and trying to home school. All the scriptures you reference I’m familiar with but was not obedient to the Holy Spirit at that moment. I needed to read this, bless you for blessing others.
AMEN !! I am going to work really hard on controlling my tongue . What comes up does not always come out !
Thank you 🙏🏽