James 3:8 says, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” What does a parent do with an unruly child? They discipline them. The Lord disciplines us. He is our Excellent Father.
How does He retrain our tongue to speak words that will honor Him? He allows hardships, adversities, and impossible circumstances to come into our lives. Like a Master Potter, He works the water of His word into the barren places of our heart.
Clay is barren soil. It is hard and unmanageable. A potter has to work water into the dry clay in order to soften it. I used to work with clay. I could get my clay nice and soft. It was pliable and ready to be shaped on the potter’s wheel.
In order to form the lump into something beautiful, I had to first center it. That required consistent, unyielding, and intense pressure. At first the clay fought my hands. I could feel when it was getting centered. It smoothed out. Then I knew that I could begin to shape it.
What a picture of our flesh. When we fall into a new trial, we are taken by surprise. Any hidden flesh rises and comes out of our mouth. If we listen, we will hear what we are believing in that moment.
Our heart is our belief center. The Lord will use the pressure from the unexpected hardship to expose the hidden lies that have been buried. They are not in our conscious awareness. That is why we have to listen to what we are saying.
Isaiah 55:3 says, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live…” Incline means to listen favorably. I have found that my thoughts can become so noisy, that they drown out the Lord’s whispered words.
Jesus only spoke what He heard His Father speaking, and He only did what He saw His Father do. That is a remarkable example for us to follow. Authentic followers of Jesus are attentive, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and obedient.
In order to retrain our tongue, we have to retrain our thoughts. Psalm 19:14 was another one of David’s prayers that we can adopt. It says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
Note that the meditation of his heart was coupled with the words of his mouth. What we think about in Scripture becomes our meditation. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…”
In contrast, a persistent negative mental dialogue will become our meditation. It occupies our thoughts which become words. When negativity comes out of our mouth, we slime anyone who hears us, including ourselves.