July 29, 2013
Taming the Tongue
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).
Friend to Friend
It had been one of “those” mornings and I was behind schedule in preparing to teach the women’s Tuesday morning Bible study at our church. I am fairly certain I did not exude peace and joy as I rushed around – as my Mama would say – like a chicken with its head cut off. The auditorium was set up correctly. The soundman had my power point ready to go and was waiting to do a sound check. The coffee pot was plugged in and doing its thing. Smiling ladies gathered to greet the Bible study members as they arrived. I paused and breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like everything was ready – everything except my heart.
I knew I needed to spend some time alone with God before standing to teach His Word, so I found a quiet room where I could escape for a few minutes of solitude. As I began to pray, the door flew open and crashed against the wall behind it as the husband of one of our group leaders burst into the room. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not happy and that whatever was wrong was definitely my fault. In a very loud and very angry voice, the man began to explain the problem, ending his tirade with the question, “And just what are you going to do about it?”
Sidebar: Guess what lesson I was teaching that particular morning. Remember, God definitely has a sense of humor. The lesson title was “How to Tame Your Tongue.”
I knew what I wanted to say to the man. I also knew God didn’t want me to say it. In a rare moment of wisdom, I faced my accuser with a smile and whispered, “I’ll tell you exactly what I am going to do. I am going to do whatever it takes to make you happy.”
I was completely unprepared for the man’s reaction. His mouth fell open, his eyes widened in surprise – no, make that shock – and he stumbled backwards as if I had hit him. The silence was deafening. We stared at each other for what seemed like an hour before he finally whispered back, “Thank you!” Without another word, the man turned and literally ran out of the room. The most amazing part of this story is that from that day on, he has been one of my strongest encouragers.
The Bible works, girlfriend! When God says that a gentle answer “deflects” anger, He really means it. In this verse, “deflect” means “to change course” or “to force the alteration of plans.” When anger is met with love, it is forced to change its destructive course. The plans of the enemy are altered when they are forced to comply with God’s truth. A sweet response yanks the fuse right out of an emotional time bomb that is set and ready to explode. We need to choose our responses instead of allowing our reactions to dictate the words we speak.
Godly responses begin in the mind. I believe that our thought life is the front line of battle for the control of our entire life. Psalm 34:13 warns, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” The word “keep” indicates action on our part. We decide. We choose what is allowed to take up room in our minds. It is literally the idea of a guard standing at the gate of the city, stationed there to keep watch. He is there by invitation only. If we want to live right and speak right – we must think right.
Godly responses come from the heart. If there is something wrong with our words, then there is something wrong with our heart. The truth of Proverbs 16:23 is profound in its simplicity, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.”
A judge utters a few words and a guilty man is taken to death row.
A friend speaks a word of encouragement and a desperate heart finds hope.
A mother lashes out with angry words and the light in her child’s eyes is gone.
A wife offers a word of forgiveness and a marriage is restored.
A gossip makes a phone call and a reputation is destroyed.
A teenager says “no” and changes the course of her life.
Words are powerful. Words can destroy or build. We need to make the choice today – to respond in the right way to those angry words that are surely headed our way tomorrow.
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