Practical Pieces of Advice Regarding Our Tongues
1. Acknowledge that you have a tongue that is prone to sin.
One of my favorite hymns is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” written by Robert Robinson in 1757 when he was only twenty-two years old. Listen to what he says in the fourth stanza:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Here Robinson humbly acknowledges his heart’s great tendency to sin. Of course, our tongues are equally prone to sin also. Indeed, your tongue and my tongue have a natural inclination to curse God, take his name in vain, bear false witness against our neighbors, hurt our spouses, provoke our children to anger, damage our relationship with others, and destroy our lives. We should not deny this reality but humbly accept it.
Pray with David, “Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (Ps. 120:2). Or we can borrow the words of Robinson’s hymn and apply them to our tongues and say to God, “Bind my wandering tongue to Thee. Here’s my tongue, O take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.” May it be our daily prayer to God that he will keep our tongues from sinning!
3. Aim to glorify God in everything that you say.
God created us to glorify him forever. He created everything in us, including our tongue, for his glory. Therefore, we must use our tongues for his glory. The apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
4. Avoid careless talkers such as gossipers.
Do not tolerate people like them. Proverbs 11:13 says that “people who tell secrets about others cannot be trusted. Those who can be trusted keep quiet.” Then Proverbs 18:8 adds, “Gossip is so tasty—how we love to swallow it!” (Good News Bible). Oh, may we not engage in careless talking or passively listen to gossip and slander.
5. Admit your sin and look for forgiveness in Christ.
We need to confess all our sins, including those sins that have to do with the use of our tongues. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We need to realize, too, that only Jesus can deliver us from the power of all our sins. Therefore, we need Jesus, for he alone can change us. He alone can transform our tongues from being instruments of evil into being instruments of good.
6. Anticipate your glorified tongue.
Yes, while we remain in this sin-stricken world and in our corrupt bodies, we will continue to struggle with the use of our tongue. We will sin with our tongue, in what we say and how we say things. However, someday God will completely deliver us from sin. He will glorify our bodies; we will not be able to sin anymore. We will have a tongue that is perfect—a tongue that will forever praise God, for “when [Jesus] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Rev. Brian G. Najapfour (ThM, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) has been a minister of the gospel since 2001 and has served both in the Philippines and in the United States. He is the author of many books, including The Gospel-Driven Tongue. He blogs at biblicalspiritualitypress.org