Sometimes we wonder why we are not seeing more of the action of the Holy Spirit working within our lives on a regular basis. Could it be that our harmful tongues get in the way of that power and connectedness to the Spirit? How majestic is our ability to speak, in ways that could build up and edify one another, yet we often revert to more harmful, judgmental and not so pleasing ways to empower ourselves instead.
As James 3 puts it best…
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Recently, I have found myself in quite the predicament. I’d leave church on Sunday, only to hate on my brothers and sisters come Monday. It now makes sense why I felt gradually detached from the Spirit as each day passed. I thought maybe I needed to draw closer to God through more study perhaps. Then the notion hit me—I was inadvertently pushing God away through my unkind words directed at others.
In an instant flash of memories, all of my recent verbal assaults came back to haunt me. My God, what had I done? How could I have been so foolish to think that I was any better than those who had also been made in God’s likeness?
Paul writes in Ephesians 4…
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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
My unkind words were grieving the Holy Spirit. No wonder, I felt so powerless in my situations. The connectivity had been tampered with.
In the teachings of Psalm 141, here is a prayer for us tongue-tied individuals…
A psalm of David.
I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs, and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken. They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.” But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.