by Alli Hill
Overly-crowded houses, temper tantrums, missed bedtimes, tight finances, and toys coming out of your ears. Oftentimes, this is how we view Christmas. In times of stress and little sleep we tend to do and say things we later regret. As we near the Christmas season, I want to share a challenge with you the Lord has been showing me.
About six months ago I read through the book of James, and found myself brought under conviction by the Holy Spirit regarding several sin areas in my life. The root issue I felt the Lord revealing to me was my tongue. And for the past six months, the Lord has been teaching me and refining me in this area of my life. For years now, I’ve considered my mouth to simply be “quick witted” or “sarcastic,” when in reality I’ve had an unbridled tongue. According to James 1:26, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”
My dad just preached over the course of a weekend at our church where my husband pastors. The last session of our time together, the Lord laid on his heart to preach from Matthew 12:33-37. In this passage Jesus is teaching about the power of our words as he asks, “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:34-37)
At the conclusion of the service we sang “Amazing Grace” and I began to cry. You see, when the Lord is working in your heart and your life as you pray and study His Word, even the old hymns take on new meaning. As I’ve been paying closer attention to my words and how I use them, I’ve seen my own sinfulness and the ungodliness in my speech. Singing about God’s grace through the sending of his son Jesus Christ to save me from my sin, I was overwhelmed.
As my dad said, “If the Lord doesn’t control your tongue, he doesn’t control your heart.” How can I speak evil when God has given me a new heart? How can I continue to use my words carelessly as a child of God and assume it is ok? I want to use my words to God’s glory and to give life to anyone I come in contact with. Ultimately, I want a heart like His, with words flowing out that give life (Proverbs 18:21).
As we approach the Christmas season and times filled with travel and family, I want to challenge each of us to guard our tongues and hearts. It has been my experience during holiday travels that children won’t sleep as well, quiet times won’t be as regular, and tempers tend to flare quickly. The good news of the gospel is that believers are given new hearts, but we are also given the Holy Spirit to help us live, not according to our flesh, but according to God’s will.
See your family and those you will be around this season as opportunities to speak life and truth. If your family is lost, see them as your mission field. How can they know the God you love if you don’t open your mouth, using your words, to tell them about your Heavenly Father who sent his only Son to save us from our sin and give us eternal life with Him in glory? If your family is saved, thank the Lord for them, and seek to encourage and build one another up. The Christian life can be hard, and we need as much encouragement and prayer as we can get. Let us be people who please the Lord with our words.
“Lord help me to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone (Titus 3:2). God, put a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3). If I’m tempted to speak in ungodly ways, do not let any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart by acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).”