Always need to have the last word? Can’t stand it when you can’t respond to a criticism? Have trouble avoiding gossip?
It’s time for a crash course in holding your tongue! By your words you are justified, by your words you are condemned—so don’t condemn yourself!
Your tongue is the way to victory or destruction. Choose life. Choose victory. Choose God’s way. Choose to hold your tongue.
Here are five quick tips for holding your tongue, no matter what the situation.
1. Recite scriptures in your mind.
The temptation to speak can sometimes feel like more than we can bear! But it isn’t. God says He will always give us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). So, when you find yourself wanting to criticize, snap back at someone, gossip or speak anything against the Word of God—STOP. Begin reciting scriptures and confessions over and over in your mind. Try these:
- Wisdom is silent. –Proverbs 29:11
- Love is not easily angered. –1 Corinthians 13:5
- Lord, set a guard over my mouth. –Proverbs 17:28
- I only speak what is edifying and encouraging. –Ephesians 4:29
2. Forgive instantly.
Are you quick to forgive? Or are you someone who knows you have to and eventually will, but first hold onto the grudge as long as you think you can? Friend, unforgiveness spells trouble in more ways than one. It will keep you from walking in love, block your blessings, and cause even more sin through words you’ll later regret.
To avoid saying something in the moment when someone insults or offends you, forgive instantly. You might say, “That’s going to take some serious work.” Did you know you can forgive by faith? God is always ready to help you obey His Word. Ask Him to help you forgive by faith. Then, your words will fall in line with His will.
3. Love your way out of it.
You can love your way out of temptation. Did you know that? Love is the key to victory. Love is the answer to everything you need and want. Love opens the way wide and clear for God to move and work. When you are walking in love, holding your tongue will become easier every day. You won’t have those feelings on the inside that cause you to slip up with your words. You just won’t want to say those things anymore!
As you work toward this place, when a situation arises where you feel tempted to speak an unkind, harsh or critical word—pause in the natural. Begin to think about the love of God that is shed abroad in your heart (Romans 5:5). Say in your heart, I surround this person with faith and love. I have the love of God on the inside of me. I walk in love and honor His command to do so right now in this moment.
Watch how love will douse strife, fear, and anger in you and those around you. It really will amaze you.
4. Stay silent.
The world enjoys a good debate. You don’t have to look far to find people across the world who are eager to share their opinions. In a world of television, social media and idle chatter, finding someone who remains quiet is rare.
Remember this: Anyone can spout off his opinions. It takes wisdom to know when to be quiet. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (NKJV). Sure, there are times to speak up, but there is power in silence to douse the fire of strife and keep from entering into sin. Of the many times Jesus was attacked, criticized and accused, there were times when He would respond, but there were many times when He remained silent.
In your life, when all else fails, there’s a foolproof way to hold your tongue—stay silent! That can be a challenge like no other, but you can do it! If your husband or wife or anyone in your life is telling you just what they think, insulting you left and right—button your lips and hold on tight. Don’t give in. You may have the perfect comeback, but it isn’t perfect if it isn’t said in love.
James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (NIV).
Next time someone tries to pick a fight with you or comes at you harshly, stay silent and watch how fast the fire dies down.
5. Walk away from gossip.
Maybe you were raised in a family of women who call each other on the phone to gossip or spend family gatherings dishing about the latest scandal. Or perhaps there is a group of people that like to gossip after church, and they want to include you. Did you know that even if you don’t participate, you’re on dangerous ground?
The Bible warns us about those who gossip:
- “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.” –Proverbs 20:19, NIV
- “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” –Proverbs 16:28, NIV
- “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” –Proverbs 11:12, ESV
In other words, if you spend time with someone who gossips, you are participating in divisive activities. Just as you wouldn’t hang around while someone used curse words, so too should you walk away when gossip starts.
When you aren’t around those who gossip, you’ll find it much easier to resist the temptation to do so yourself. When the temptation comes to share information or opinions about others—make the choice—DON’T. If you’re concerned about someone, don’t talk to others about it, just pray for that person. Bring God into the equation, not meddlers.
When you put these 5 tips into practice, you’ll become more and more proficient at holding your tongue and staying far away from sin. It will help you walk in love and keep the airways clear for your prayers. More importantly, you’ll find you have a newfound peace and joy in your heart—one you won’t hesitate to talk about!
Learn why every word you speak matters in this teaching from Kenneth Copeland.