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My Least Favorite Bible Verse

Would you like to know my least favorite Bible verse?  Maybe it's yours, too?

It's found in Matthew 12:36 where Jesus says: I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

A 'careless' word can be an idle word, a thoughtless word, a useless word. The thought of having to give an account for those is daunting, isn't it?  We speak so freely, most of us.  We talk without thinking far too often, only to regret later what we have said.  When I read this verse, my reaction is 'Uh-Oh - I'm in trouble!'

Throughout the Bible we read about imperfect men and women whom God used to accomplish His purposes.  I am very glad that the Bible doesn't gloss over their failures but let's us see them in all their humanity.  We are inspired by their greatness and equally educated by their mistakes. God did this by design for it says in I Corinthians 10:6, Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.  When we think of Abraham, Jacob, David, Elijah or Peter, we easily recognize that virtually all of their failures had to do with their tongues! They said something wrong.

Jesus said something else about our tongue: Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Matt. 12:34  Our conversations, our words, reveal what is in our hearts.  Want to know the condition of your heart? Listen to yourself talk. Are your words positive or negative? Are you critical of others? Judgmental? Or do you give others the benefit of the doubt?

Are your words wholesome? Do they build other people up or tear them down?

Controlling the tongue is a matter of knowing when to speak and when not to speak.  It is having the good sense (or wisdom) not to say everything that comes to your mind. Just because you have a thought doesn't mean it needs to be verbalized aloud. Thoughts come and thoughts go - the decision to speak is the key issue.

In the book of Ecclesiastes we read: Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart, to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.  Eccl. 5:2

And James, half-brother of the Lord, wrote: If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man. James 3:2  Do you realize that he just described his brother, his Lord?  For Jesus is the only One who ever successfully controlled his tongue.  He said He only spoke what the Father told Him to say.  Oh, to be like Him!

That is, in fact, what we are called to - to be conformed into His image and likeness - the mirror Christ to the world!  In our effort to grow in holiness and Christ-likeness, it is imperative to understand that the grace to control our tongues is given one day at a time, one hour at a time - sometimes, one moment at a time.  The sanctification of our tongue is a lifelong journey!  

Every successful journey begins with the first step.  Today, commit your tongue to the Lord, ask forgiveness for its misuse in the past, and make it your purpose to 'watch your words'.  Here's a little acrostic that may help in deciding whether or not I need to speak.

N - Is what I'm about to say Necessary for the hearer to hear?

E - Is what I'm about to say Edifying to the hearer?

E - Is what I'm about to say Empowering to the hearer?

D - Is what I'm about to say Dignifying to the hearer?

Selah! (That means 'Pause and think about it)

'to be continued -

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