Today’s Truth

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

James 1:26

Friend to Friend

I want my words to be life-giving. I want to use my words and tone of voice to bless people and love them well. Isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what pleases God? To be clear: I’m still a work in progress when it comes to this, but by God’s grace I am making progress.

My heart is hushed as I reflect on the way James addressed the importance of our words in the New Testament.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:19-20, 26, NIV)

I know this verse. Maybe you do too. Maybe you even know it by heart or have it written on an index card that’s taped to your bathroom mirror. But, as James reminds us not so subtly, knowing and doing are two different things (James 1:22). It is not good enough for us to be “knowers” of God’s Word. If we want to be women of great and godly impact, we must also be doers.

So let’s break down the verse so we can better implement what it has to say about how to ensure that our words will be life-giving.

Be “Quick to Listen” 

My girlfriend Jodie said, “This is difficult for a girl who likes to finish sentences and finds silence to be the most uncomfortable sound in the world. I often have to turn off the voice in my own mind to really hear the other person.” I get her. Don’t you? Such good advice. To be a good listener I have to turn off the voice in my mind. I don’t need to think of my answer while the person is talking, I need to listen and be in the moment. I need to hear. When I hear I am better equipped to be compassionate, understanding, gracious, and honorable.

I get myself in trouble when I don’t listen. I stumble over arrogant thoughts, confident that I know more, understand more, have a better idea than, a more correct idea than, or a holier idea. God knew this would be a struggle for most of us. He points us to a better way in His Word. Be quick to listen.

Be “Slow To Speak and Slow to Become Angry”

This may come as news to some of you, but I have lots of opinions. Gobs of them! And I have almost convinced myself that people need to hear them. Certainly my husband. He should know where I stand on everything he says and everything he thinks. Right? And my kids? “Oh, my kids LOVE when I give them my opinion twenty times a day!” said no mom of teenagers… ever. So with this directive to be slow to speak, I sit up a bit straighter in my chair.

And then there is that “slow to become angry” part. Ahem! Have I mentioned that I’m a bit spicy? I credit it to being a sassy girl from the ‘Burgh, but that’s just a way for me to make excuses for my sin. Some people hold their anger in. I’m not that people. My anger becomes a lovely fireworks display inside our home. Light my fuse and I will show you some sparkling color and allow you to hear my booms!

And with that vulnerable gem of an admission, we move on to the next oh-so-challenging point that will lead us toward the righteousness that God desires from us.

“Keep a Tight Rein on Your Tongue”

The Apostle Paul told the believers in Ephesus, “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” (Ephesians 4:29). One important word to notice in that verse is the word any. That doesn’t even leave room for a loophole or an excuse that starts with “But HE said . . . “

You and I may have a word-choice problem, but our word-choice problem does not have to have us! We are children of God who are filled with His righteousness. It is time for a new day with words, girlfriend.

Chin up. Shoulders back. Deep breath. Intentional step forward.

Let’s do this.

Let’s Pray

Holy Father, please forgive me for all of the times I’ve allowed sinful behavior to creep into my thoughts and conversations. I ask that you will now, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

In Jesus’s Name I pray,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Proverbs 18:21. What two powers do our tongues posses? Which of those do you want your words to reflect? What can you do today to make that happen?

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s post is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s new book, I WANT IT ALL, which gives you practical help to connect your struggles with the solutions and strength of God found in the Bible. Got Prime? Order yours from Amazon. For a signed copy, get yours from the store on Gwen’s website!

Pssst! Gwen wants to connect on Instagram! (Her stories are fun!)

10 Responses to “Two Ears, One Mouth… Enough Said”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Use to tell my kids this all the time.

  2. CJ says:

    Thank you for these words today. They are exactly what I needed. Today is going to be a challenging day for me and I would like to ask for prayer for my family. God truly knows what we need when we need it and he has definitely used this website and your words at the perfect time. God Bless. -CJ

  3. Sherri says:

    POWERFUL!!!Thank you for this godly spanking😁😁.

  4. YVONNE says:

    Gwen, thank you for this devotional.
    I remember telling our 4 daughters when they were growing up, God gave you one mouth and 2 ears, so you can listen more than you talk.
    I have to work on that myself. Especially on interrupting. A thought comes into my mind and I don’t want to forget, so I jump in. It’s a hard habit to break.

    Something else I’ve learned from my sister-in-law. Don’t give unsolicited advise. Another area of self-control I’m getting better at. Ironic how Proverbs 18:21 lines up with Galatians 5:22-23 talk about the Fruit of the Spirit and the last attribute is self-control.

  5. Deanna says:

    Excuse me for a minute while I go soak my feet, you have walked all over my toes this morning! Whew, I needed to hear this right now. I am working on this myself. Pray that I improve on this daily. Thank you for your timely words!

  6. Donna says:

    Thank you for your wise and wonderful words.. My brother is very ill; and I fragment easily with every one. I am his only caregiver 24/7. I give God the praise, honor and glory for his daily help with my feelings of frustration and anger. Our Heavenly Father has brought my brother and me thru MUCH pain, agony and emotional torment for over 6 long years. Praise Jesus for Girl Friends in Our God…..

  7. Pamela says:

    There are things we seldom consider. For instance, when speaking to our pastor, there are things we would never say, like obscenities; but away from the pastor we’ll say anything. So we’re more respectful of the man of God than we are of God himself. Where can we go to be out of hearing range of God? God hears every word that comes out of our mouths AND sometimes the things we say hurt His feelings. Being mindful of this helps tremendously.
    Also, an older lady taught me something years ago that I’ve used since. Before you open your mouth to respond to anyone, ask yourself what do you want to accomplish? If you just want to “get them told”, that’s easy enough to do. But if you want to convince them to agree with you and see things your way, then you will choose your words wisely. I’ve followed that advice at home, Work and everywhere I open my mouth.

  8. Angela says:

    I will be honest and say I struggle BIG TIME and fail a thousand times a day. If I’m ever so honest, I can’t say I even try to do better. There is a lot of anger and struggle and dysfunction in my household and I feel powerless to change my tongue, attitude, etc. I know it’s a lie though. Things are about to change and I hope that the space it brings will allow for repair of some very broken and dysfunctional relationships.

  9. Jamicia says:

    Hi CJ. How did your day go? You said it would be challenging for you. I prayed it went well. :>

  10. Elaine says:

    Sometimes finding the room for slience is difficult but with prayer we will find the way.

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