Last week I talked about how important it is that we mature as Christians. That we grow to become more like Christ and not stay as baby Christians. The first thing we talked about was that mature Christians stopping pointing out the sins of others and confess and deal with their own sins.
This week I want us to look at another thing spiritually mature Christians do and that is controlling their tongues. Mature Christians watch their words and also know when not to speak. Immature Christians are often quick to speak their opinions on everything to anyone that will listen to them. The problem is often people need to hear something other than our opinions and can be quickly turned off when we combine our opinions on moral matters with out sharing of Christ. The words we say about things going on in the world can silence their ears to what we want to say about the most important thing in our world, Jesus Christ.
When I think about controlling our tongue there is a verse that comes to mind for me. It is found in Ephesians 4:29, Paul tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This verse gives us a very strong command but then tells us why we it important to follow the command. We should not let unwholesome talk be spoken. Words that hurt some one should not come out of the mouth of a mature Christian! People say “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” Yea right! I can tell you that person has never spent much time in junior high. Many kids are hurt by what their peers say. The person that believes that quote has never grown up in a home where verbal abuse is a common place! Words do harm and a mature Christians work to not let harmful words come out of their mouth.
There are three things discussed in the last part of verse 29 that I think are very important. First we need to make sure the words we say build other up! They are said and received in positive ways! Paul is quick to point out that the building up needs to occur in areas of need. There are some people who need to hear certain things at certain times and as Christians we need to be sensitive to that and give people the spiritual food they need at specific times. The last part of the verse says, “those who listen.” As I read that I realize that sometimes the things we say keep people from really listening to what we have to say. Don’t let any unwholesome talk keep them from hearing what they need to hear!
Trust me I know controlling the tongue is not an easy thing to do! All of us know what it is like to say something and before it reaches our own ears wishing we could suck those words right back in! I read a quote written in the back of my dad’s Bible once that said, “A tongue six inches long can ruin a man six feet tall.” This is so true because our words can cause ourselves much pain and trouble but it also may keep someone from listening and hearing the most important thing spoken, the Gospel!