Knowing when to speak and when to hold your tongue is, perhaps, more important that choosing the right words to say.
As a young teen I struggled with confidence. I had low self-esteem and I was awkward around people. “Humorous” barbs and sarcasm seemed to be an unfortunate way of life. Many times I cried myself to sleep after a particularly difficult day. Looking back I can see that my life wasn’t anywhere near as torturous as that of countless others. Then, however, I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight.
It wasn’t too long before I discovered that playing along, dispensing my own daggers of destruction reduced the frequency and intensity of their attacks on me. While my retorts didn’t remove the pain, they did diminish pain’s effect on me.
I found that I was actually very quick with my words. It was as though I didn’t even need to think. Someone would say something and I would have a reply even before they finished their sentence. Sometimes I launched pre-emptive strikes when I perceived an imminent attack (or sometimes without any reason at all!). I took some comfort in the laughs of observers. It never occurred to me that my words could be causing the same damage to others as their words did to me.
Now I’m older. Now I know better. Has that stopped me? To be honest, only sometimes.
James 3:7-11 says, “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (NASB).
The tongue will continue to be an issue for me and you until we die. Only death can tame the tongue. May God help me to die to myself so that I speak only His words. His words are life! That’s what I think.