We’ve been studying the book of Colossians and as we’re working our way through chapter three, Paul is pouring out instructions and in this section he challenges us in how we are communicating with others:
[box]“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him . . .” (Colossians 3:8–10)[/box]
Our tongues can bless, gripe, complain, and communicate the gospel—all within a matter of minutes! Tongues can inspire the hardest heart or crush a tender spirit. Proverbs 21:23 warns us to “guard the tongue” in order to stay out of trouble.
Most of us would probably tend to agree that guarding, or taming, our tongues is ultimately a deep-rooted heart-issue. But . . . could part of the heart purification process involve the difficult choice to bridle our tongues? Paul gives us the clear instruction to “put them all aside . . .” that is an action we have to take.
James warns us that we have nothing to brag about in our Christianity, if we’re not actively working to “bridle our tongues.” Just as a horse needs a bridle to direct his course, we need to put “bridles” or disciplines in place that will “tame” our tongues.
While James states that no one (in their own power) can “tame the tongue,” thankfully, God provides all you need to discipline this unruly critter (2 Peter 1:3-8)! As you cooperate with Him, here are some practical tips to help you tame that ugly tongue:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal when your tongue does not glorify Christ, and for grace to speak life-giving words. (Ephesians 4:29)
- Ask for input from family members and friends. This can be humiliating but it allows those who know us best to uncover “blind spots.” Please be prepared with a receptive heart! (Proverbs 27:5–6)
- Post Scriptures which apply to the tongue and begin memorizing them.
- Ask a friend to hold you accountable. Share specific areas of need and pray together for victory and grace.
- Practice the principle of crying out for HELP! When tempted: Stop. Close your mouth. Take a deep breath and cry out for God’s grace to overcome the temptation to talk!
- Use fewer words. Practice the spiritual discipline of “quiet” and listen more than you talk.
- Learn to HALT!
- Apply the communication filter for loving communication.
- Consider how you would feel if you were spoken to with the same tone and words you are using.
- Before holding a conversation that could turn volatile, write out your thoughts, read over this several times and delete inflammatory words or emotional trigger points.
Colossians 3 is truly an instruction manual for living! Join me in studying this chapter by reading it again and answering these questions:
- Verse 6 serves as a warning for those who are not “in Christ.” But it is also a hidden promise for believers. See how this might serve as a promise for future restoration by reading Eph. 5:6 and 2 Peter 3:7–13.
- Verse 7 makes it clear that we once walked in the sins of verse 5 (and may still struggle with some of these), but because of what verse 9 tells us—what should we be able to do with this struggle?
- An additional list of sinful manifestations is included in verse 8. Research the Greek definition for each of these terms. How can we apply James 1:19–20 and Ephesians 4:29 to this verse?
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