Do we actually get any "points" for biting our tongues--literally biting our tongues? I've done that a few times lately. I've actually bitten down on my tongue to keep from saying something I knew I shouldn't say, to keep from interjecting my opinion where I knew it wasn't welcomed, to keep from defending myself against what I considered to be unfair remarks.
Believe me, there have been plenty of other times when I let my tongue fly and said whatever entered my mind. I'm not proud of that; I'm just being honest with you.
But I have felt convicted that I should probably learn not to speak everything that comes into my mind. I should probably filter my thoughts through a biblical and godly sieve and only say those things that give grace, that show understanding and wisdom, that can be spoken with true love, that center on truth and that ... are any of my business.
Today I read Proverbs 19:11 and was reminded that indeed I need to be slower to speak and show a little discretion when I do.
The discretion of a man
makes him slow to anger,
And his glory is to
overlook a transgression.
But as I looked a little more closely at this verse and meditated on its meaning, I was struck by the fact that it doesn't say to "just bite your tongue." You see, by the time we're having to bite our tongues, the harm may have already been done. Whether I speak my displeasure or not, I've already become angry, indignant, offended, critical, or just plain ticked off. I may not speak my mind, but my mind is already headed down a dangerous path. I've already begun to build a case against that person, to argue my side on the inside. And I've probably already recorded their misstep in my "record of wrongs."
The greater feat, the more glorious approach, according to Proverbs 19:11, is to completely overlook the other person's transgression. To refuse to count it against them. To let it go, without recording it mentally. To continue to see them as friend rather than foe. To resist the urge to argue--even silently, within.
That takes a whole different approach than just clamping down on your tongue, doesn't it? So how do we become people who truly fit the Proverbs 19:11 description? How do I become that person who graciously shows discretion, refuses to get angry over the smallest thing, and overlooks that which would otherwise be listed in my record of wrongs?
Here are a few thoughts for us to try:
So today, I'm trying to keep my tongue out of danger. Rather than clamping down on my words when they're just about to leave my mouth, I'm trying to filter my words by adjusting my heart. And I'm hoping not to just spare someone a barrage of ugly, hateful, or sarcastic words, but I'm trying to keep my heart soft towards that person as well, so we can continue to have a good and healthy relationship. Will you join me?
- Appropriate the grace of God. He has shown us grace over and over and over. I need to learn to approach each relationship with a bucket of His grace, ready to sprinkle it liberally all over every conversation, every interaction. When someone else is in a raw mood, is argumentative, doesn't see things the way I do, I need to give grace...without grudge. (Ephesians 4:29)
- Consider others as more important than myself. (Philippians 2:4) Look at things from the other person's perspective. Is he hurting? Is she tired? Is she doing the best she can with the circumstances she's been dealt? Is he likely to come back later and admit that he wasn't thinking straight? Is she just venting?
- Put down my weapons. I have a friend who often reminds me, "Kay, put the weapons down. You'll never be able to discuss this issue in a productive way until you've put your weapons down." When I get on the defensive I pick up the weapons of blame, accusation, recall, and justification, to name a few. When I put those weapons down, I'm more likely to hear the other person, both their words and their feelings. Plus, they don't feel pushed into a corner so they're less likely to respond to me like a caged animal. Bottom line? You can't have a friendly conversation with guns in your hands.
- Learn to respond rather than react. I can predetermine that my responses will be Christ-like--kind, tenderhearted, forgiving--beforehand. (Ephesians 4:32) Or I can react in anger, sarcasm, slander, bitterness. (Ephesians 4:31) I'm better off to follow the plan I've established before the situation even occurs.
- Let Christ rule in my heart. (Philippians 2:5-8) Jesus showed us over and over that true love is manifest in sacrifice. It may be a real sacrifice to not speak to an issue, to not respond in anger, to not express my displeasure. But that's ok. That's what it means to be a follower of Christ. And in the end, that's always the best route.
Labels: relationships, Walk Through the Bible