Taming The Beast
There is a beast that we must tame
Most dangerous of all,
For when that beast is out of cage
It certainly will maul.
His teeth are sharp and claws can kill
Most anyone in sight.
He has a roar that frightens all
When showcasing his might.
For when it's left to hurt someone
That one may never heal,
For all their joy and happiness,
The beast will surely steal.
"What is this beast that I should tame?"
You might be thinking now;
This beast that harms so much in sight,
Which we should not allow.
The beast is not an animal
With fury that it brung,
It is instead what we all have—
That something called our tongue.
This beast needs reins, just like a horse,
To stop it in its track.
For if the beast's not stopped in time
It can't be taken back.
"But who controls the reins?" is such
a question we should ask.
And of the answer we should choose:
"Let's make it thus God's task."
This beast is one I've yet to tame,
"Please help me, Lord!” I pray.
For only when we say this prayer,
The beast will go away.
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).
An Important Lesson
Awhile back, my husband did a children’s story for church. When he pulled out a tube of toothpaste from a bag, the kids were curious. He then asked for a couple of volunteers. Their curiosity increased. He then had one child squeeze some toothpaste into the other child’s hand. Even more curiosity. He even had my curiosity going because he hadn’t told me what his children’s story was going to be about that day. Then he asked the first child to put the toothpaste back into the tube. Of course the child was unsuccessful. My husband made the point that when we say things, we can’t take it back. What has been said, has been said. No matter how hard you try, you can’t put it back to the way it was before.
How often I have said (wrote/typed) things I wished I hadn’t, and I’m pretty sure most of you (if not all) have had similar experiences. There have been plenty of times that the Holy Spirit has convicted me of my wrongs and I have had to go back and apologize to someone for those words. How much easier and better for all if I hadn’t opened my mouth (or got my fingers typing) in the first place!
The Bible speaks of certain communication as bad and certain communication as good. Although I’m sure you are aware of what is what, it is worth reminding ourselves of the seriousness of the bad and the positive that the good can do. May this article serve as a reminder for us all to think and pray before we speak/write/type.
What kind of communication does the Bible say is bad? Of course lying makes it to the top of the list, even stating that all liars will suffer the second death, and also ranking liars right up there with murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, and idolaters (Revelation 21:8). That is quite the sordid group for liars to be associated with! In addition, it is so important that the 9th of God’s 10 Commandments states not to bear false witness against our neighbor (Exodus 20:16).
Even speaking idle words are given poor marks in the Bible. How often our chatter is filled with words that are meaningless, of which instead could be used to speak positively for the good of others and for the glory of God. Speaking idly is also linked to the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36,37 states:
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
Ellen G. White speaks of the seriousness of idle talk within the framework of our relationship with Jesus as follows:
“…by idle talk, evilspeaking, or neglect of prayer, we may in one day lose the Saviour's presence, and it may take many days of sorrowful search to find Him, and regain the peace that we have lost” (Desire of Ages, pg. 83.1).
The Bible also speaks against other forms of communication. We should not gossip (Proverbs 18:8), speak evil of anyone (James 4:11), be deceitful (Romans 1:29), speak with filthiness (Ephesians 5:4), curse (Psalm 10:7), or say whatever is on our mind (Proverbs 29:11). And Colossians 3:8 states that we should not speak with anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, or filthy communication. Basically we should refrain from any “corrupt communication” (Ephesians 4:29).
Sometimes not speaking at all is better than opening up our mouths. Job’s friends did pretty well at supporting his misfortune until they opened up their mouths to “help” him. When Job’s friends sat with him in silence, it was better than the accusations that followed when they decided to speak. The Bible often states that it is better if we keep our mouths shut.
“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28).
“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3).
It is better if we “shutteth” our lips and “keepeth” our mouths than to say something hurtful; however, if in the process of saying hurtful things we realize we are doing this, or if the other person has told you that what you are saying is hurtful, don’t keep going. Stop and hold your peace. Don’t keep squeezing more toothpaste out of the tube! You will only be left with more of a mess. Let’s follow the proverb that says “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.”
What kind of communication does the Bible say is good? Ephesians 5:4 states that our speech should be that of giving thanks. Often it is easy to forget the blessings that we have and take them for granted. But, if we are in the habit of giving thanks, not only will this uplift us but it will also uplift those around us as well.
In addition, we should speak kind words of encouragement in the edification of others. Ephesians 4:29 states:
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Our speech should be a witness to others, declaring God’s goodness and love. Ellen G. White states:
“Speech is a talent. Of all the gifts bestowed on the human family, none should be more appreciated than the gift of speech. It is to be used to declare God’s wisdom and wondrous love. Thus the treasures of His grace and wisdom are to be communicated” (Counsels on Stewardship, 115.1).
“God has given us the gift of speech that we may recite to others His dealing with us, that HIs love and compassion may touch other hearts, and that praise may arise from other souls also to Him who has called them out of darkness and into His marvelous light. The Lord has said, ‘Ye are My witnesses.’ Isaiah 43:10” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 243.1).
What about times when we disagree with someone? How should we act then? If we are to disagree with someone, let us do so in a loving way and remember the advice given in the Bible:
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).
What if someone disagrees with you? Let us remember James 1:9:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” (emphasis added).
Are we so sure that we are right that we cannot at least listen to another person’s point of view? Pray for the Holy Spirit to help us know truth from error. The Bible promises that He will guide us in all truth (John 16:13). However, in order for us to accept this truth, we need to have an open mind. Let our hearts be humbled so that we can admit when we are wrong yet not waver when we are right. When we are right, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering…” (Hebrews 10:23) and, when prompted by the Holy Spirit, to speak the truth, but in love (Ephesians 4:15).
What To Do
How do we speak that which is good and refrain from that which is bad? Is it in using more willpower or grit? No. What we need instead is a renewing of our mind though Christ Jesus (Romans 12:2).
In Ephesians 4:22-24, the apostle Paul states that we should put off our “former conversation [in] the old man, which is corrupt” and instead “be renewed in the spirit of [our] mind… putting on “the new man, which [is] after God…”
We receive this change of heart and mind through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The condition of our hearts will influence our thoughts, and our thoughts will determine our words and actions. Matthew 12:34 states:
“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
Satan ever seeks to catch us off guard and knows our weaknesses. Let us be sober and vigilant of this roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). We have a choice as to what we say and whom we will serve every moment of the day and, if we are not careful, Satan will gain a foothold.
So, the next time you are tempted to speak, write, or type something that could be characterized as bad communication, pause, say a silent prayer, and then ask, “Is this kind of communication something that God would approve of?” If not, remain silent, and, if typing, hit that delete key!
Poem and article written by Stacey Johlman. Stacey is a Speech-Language Pathologist who is still learning, with God’s help, to tame the beast.