Healthy Habits

The Battle in My Mouth

"Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will bring the pertinent passages to our minds at just the right times."

“A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. The tongue can set your whole life on fire.”

James 3:5,6

Every day I fight a war of words.

As I wrangle with my thoughts and vocabulary, I’m brought deeper into the Word of God for guidance and strength. My greatest challenge is when I am on the road. When I get behind the steering wheel something happens to me; I become aggressive and impatient. I know I’m not alone in this test. The book of Romans is a great guideline for how to treat others. Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” It sparks my prayers of “Lord, please help me to be a good example and to say only kind words to people; to build them up and to not tear them down.” Sometimes that is such a tough assignment!

While driving in the suburbs one day with my two teenagers in the backseat, I sat at a stoplight with only a motorcyclist in front of me. The light turned green, and he didn’t go. I loudly yelled, “IT’S GREEN – GOOOO!!” Apparently, my voice carried through my car windows, over his roaring motorcycle, and through his helmet. He slowly turned his head around to look at me and give me a well-de- served dirty look. Then he sped off.

“Mom, he heard you!” My kids were mortified. With my heart pounding and the Holy Spirit’s disapproval pulsating in my spirit, I continued with my mouth shut. I later apologized to God and to my kids.

I wish I could say that was an isolated incident, but I cannot. Motoring happily along singing praises to God, I can, in the next breath, call one of His creations an “idiot” or some other horrible pronoun. When a driver pulls out immediately in front of me or cuts me off, the wanton word war begins.

James 3:10 says, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” Well, he’s right! I’m sure I’m not alone in this fault and it is a bad example of how Christians should behave. Our children or other passengers hear us, see us, and form conclusions about Christianity during such times.

How can we stop it? By reading the Bible and praying for wisdom, we can have more control over our tongues. No, we won’t be perfect. However, when God said in Proverbs 22:6 that we should “train a child in the way he should go,” it was spoken as a duty, not a casual suggestion. If that means we must try harder, study deeper, and pray longer to get some control over our tongues, we must do it. There are many Scriptures about not dishonoring others with our words.

I often feel like the Apostle Paul who wrote, “I do not understand my own actions because I do not do what I want to. But I do the very thing that I hate” (Rom. 7:15). Do you ever feel that way too?

Paul relied on God’s help. “Now, if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who does it but the sin that dwells within me… Who will rescue me… from this life of sin? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:24b-25).

Won’t you join me in this ongoing battle with the tongue? Studying the Scriptures every day helps to get the message of love into our spirits. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will bring the pertinent passages to our minds at just the right times. Let’s also pray that we will have the quick discernment to catch the nasty words before they roll off our tongues.

Originally published in the October 2017 issue of The War Cry.

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