by Jefferson David Tant
“He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27).
Those who preach and teach are people of words. That’s obvious, as that’s how we proclaim the message. But how we use our tongue can have a great influence on how the message is received. The proverbs of Solomon deal more with the tongue than any other topic. God intends for the tongue to be used for good, but sometimes when we open our mouths, bad happens. “And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). In view of this, it would be wise for us to consider how to use our tongues.
An Unbridled Tongue
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23).
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).
The tongue is a strong weapon, and we must use it wisely. Something as simple as a little gossip can bring strife and discord, and at times the damage cannot be repaired. That is why God gave us a cage to keep our tongues in control. When we are tempted to use the tongue in an unholy manner, just keep the cage shut — your teeth! “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19).
A Righteous and Gentle Tongue
“The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, but the perverted tongue will be cut out” (Proverbs 10:31).
We should ask the Lord to help us speak in such a way that our words will have a positive influence on others.
Words of Kindness
Do you remember what Solomon said about the worthy woman? “She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26). What a great reputation to have. Yes, sometimes we have to deal with and confront error and sin, but how we do it makes a world of difference. I have known of preachers who display anger if anyone questions or challenges them, or even makes suggestions as to how things may be improved. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). responding in anger with harsh words will never edify, but a soft response can have far-reaching positive results.
Manage Your Anger
Yes, there are occasions for anger that are right, but how do we deal with it? “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27). This is where self-control is extremely important. Even when we have a right to be angry, we must not allow anger to control us, but we must control it.
An Encouraging Word
How have you felt when someone complimented you for anything? Maybe they commented on your new shoes, or appreciated a lesson you gave or thanked you for your smile or words of encouragement? You know how you feel, thus you know how others feel who receive your words of encouragement.
“Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).
“Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11).
“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverb 12:18)
“And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men” (I Thessalonians 5:14).