When You Can’t Control Your Tongue

Growing in His Glory: When You Can't Control the Tongue

“The tongue has the power of life & death,

and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs 18:21

My tongue gets me in trouble. A lot. For those of you who know me, you might be surprised that someone so quiet and reserved could have a tongue problem, but my family would tell you otherwise.

James calls the tongue “a fire” (3:6), “full of deadly poison” (3:8). It “corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (3:6). “No man can tame the tongue” (3:7).

Based on what James says, how is it even possible that any good can come from the tongue? 


On my own, my tongue exposes the evil in my heart. In just a few words, my tongue tears down all the good I’ve worked so hard to build up. My venomous tongue reduces my sweet children to tears — the poison of my words injects them with searing pain. Nothing I can say, no apology I might muster, can assuage the damage done by the tongue.

Trust me. I have tried. In the past weeks, I have been meditating on James 1:19-20 and trying really hard to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” At first, I saw some success. Instead of spouting off every time a child offended me, I intentionally sealed my lips together, forcing myself to not to speak. But as the day progressed and the frustrations piled up, my anger welled up inside, bubbling in me like a vicious acid waiting to spew out and corrode all I came in contact with. So when I eventually lost control and my lips would no longer seal, I let loose a deluge of venom that flooded over my poor children, bringing them all to tears.

Did you notice how many times I said “I” and “me”? In my attempts to control my tongue, I completely neglected to seek the One who is Lord and Master over all, even my tongue. Jesus Christ is the only hope we have of keeping our tongues in check. He is the only one who lived and did not sin. Even His tongue submitted to His will. Without the cross of Jesus Christ, we would have no hope of ever mastering our tongues. That’s why we need Him. Every day.

And so my prayer today is this:

My tongue is hurting so many, Lord. I can’t tame it no matter how hard I try. But You can, Lord. You assure us that when we lack wisdom, You will give to us generously without finding fault. Lord, guard my tongue today. Give me wisdom to discern when to speak and when to stay silent. Make my tongue heavy and slow, especially when poisonous words long to come out and hurt others. Help me, Lord, because on my own I can’t but You can. Amen.

Are you struggling to control your tongue? Stop! Let Jesus work mightily through you today. He will if you will but let Him.

Praying God’s richest blessings on you, sweet friends.





photo credit: Oakley Originals

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  1. Thank you for this reminder. We do have a responsibility in controlling ourselves, but that responsibility is to TRUST, right? To submit to God and have faith that He will give us His strength to overcome our faults. God is faithful and will not let us down.
    Angela Wilhite recently posted…Gardening and comfortMy Profile

    • Yes, faith is essential. Unless I trust in Jesus’ power, nothing will change. My tongue will still wreak its havoc. I must submit my tongue, my everything, to Him, abiding in His strength because on my own I am weak.

  2. I was nodding my head throughout this entire article. I’ve been fighting this battle and lately, God is having victory in my heart with this. Praise God! I can’t do it on my own, that’s for sure.
    Gabby@MamaGab recently posted…Focus: My One Word for 2015My Profile

  3. Very good encouragement and something we all struggle with! Thanks for sharing this!
    JES recently posted…Fast and Festive Taco Casserole {GF} ~ Printable RecipeMy Profile

  4. The book of James is a good one! I think of him as a writer to remind us to be sweet!