The tongue can only be tamed with God’s help. It can’t be changed by human power alone.
Matthew 12:33-37 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 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.
A heart that is full of sin can’t consistently speak good things. Being religious can’t control or change the heart. Salvation through repentance and by Jesus changes the heart and then God helps us control our tongue. God is keeping a record of every idle word we speak. Idle words are thoughtless, foolish, or words that don’t minister grace or help to another. It can be fault finding, gossiping, murmuring, or complaining. We’re to do all without murmuring and complaining.
Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
God wants the way we speak to change when we’re saved. The Israelites complained in the wilderness (Numbers 21:5-8). God was angry and sent fiery serpents so many people died. There is no thankfulness in murmuring and complaining. Things will come in life that we don’t like. Someone once said, take what you get and don’t throw a fit. In other words, be thankful for whatever happens because God has given it.
I Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Paul was beaten and thrown in prison but he said he’d learned to be content in whatever he faced (Philippians 4:11). We have to learn to be content and give thanks in everything – in good times and in bad times. We need to remember our trials are ordained by God to see what’s in our heart. Do we have a murmuring, complaining, fault finding, or thankfulness?
Deuteronomy 8:2-4 And thou shalt remember all the way…God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not…that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord…
Statistics show that women speak 35,000 and speak 25,000 words a day. We need to pray every day for God to set a watch over our mouth. A bit in a horse’s mouth is pulled with the reins by the rider that controls the horse’s direction, not by the horse. A boat has a rudder connected to the ship bottom. The pilot turns the rudder. The ship doesn’t turn by itself. We have to let Christ control us or we won’t control our tongue. Only God can help us control our tongue.
James 3:1-5 My brethren…If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships…are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
A fool speaks all his mind. You need to ask God to control your tongue so what is in your mind doesn’t come out.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
When you’re irritated or upset, you need to ask God to help you not utter your mind or it will inflame the situation. Sometimes we need to keep our mouth shut. You can’t do it by yourself – you need the grace of God to do it. When you feel irritation coming up in you, it’s good to get alone and pray for God’s grace to help. Only by pride comes contention. It is because of pride that an upset or irritated person lets things come out of their mouth.
Proverbs 13:3 He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
When we don’t have a soft answer, it will stir up strife. We have control and are responsible, not the other person. Raising our voice and speaking irritably will not turn away wrath, but will cause strife.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
David’s servants had protected Nabal’s herds and herdmen. David asked servants to go in peace and ask Nabal for food.
I Samuel 25:4-8…David said…go to Nabal, and greet him in my name: And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. And now I have heard…thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel. Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.
Nabal was not a nice man and spoke harshly to David’s men. Everyone knew Nabal was evil, a son of Belial – Satan. David was angry and ready to destroy Nabal’s whole household when he heard. Nabal’s servants told his wife Abigail.
I Samuel 25:9-17…David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. And Nabal answered…Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be? So David’s young men…told him all those sayings. And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also…there went up after David about four hundred men…But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife…David sent messengers… to salute our master; and he railed on them. But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt…They were a wall unto us both by night and day…while we were with them keeping the sheep. Now…consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.
God sent Abigail to David in humility and she asked that her husband’s sin be on her. She knew that David should not avenge himself. It took a soft answer and a humble manner to calm the situation. If someone we’re close to is wrathful, we have to pray for God to keep our mouth and help us to have a soft answer.
I Samuel 25:18-33 Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep…five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs…on asses. And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal…David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness…he hath requited me evil for good. So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him…And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed…at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be…Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal…I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send. Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the Lord hath withholden thee from… avenging thyself with thine own hand…and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal. And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought…unto the young men that follow my lord. I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord…when the Lord…have appointed thee ruler over Israel; That this shall be no grief…that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the Lord shall have dealt well…remember thine handmaid. And David said…Blessed be the Lord…sent thee…kept me…from avenging myself…
When Abigail told Nabal what happened with David, he had a heart attack and died. God took care of and avenged David.
I Samuel 25:36-38…Nabal…held a feast…was very drunken…in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
When Nabal was dead, David sent for Abigail to take as his wife. She was still humble and just asked to be a servant.
I Samuel 25:41 And she…bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant…
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)