“So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies, that pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence and is set on fire by hell. For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. But no human can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:5-8
SYMPTOMS OF SELF:
Oh my, our mouths can cause us so much trouble! What we say is the outlet of our pride. Our self-centeredness is clear to the world around us when we open our mouths and do one of the following:
Talk too much: often done because we think what we have to say is more important than what anyone else has to say. Unfortunately, when there are many words…sin is generally unavoidable. “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 10:19)
Talk too much about yourself: being self-centered we may center conversation on ourselves. Sharing accomplishments and good personal qualities with others can be bragging or boasting. “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2)
Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked: when focused on ourselves, we may offer our opinion when it is not asked for. These preferences are usually voiced without consideration for others. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others ” (Phillippians 2:3-4).
Whew. I don’t know about you but the first time I read those three symptoms of self-centeredness, I was sickened. I am definitely guilty of all three. The days following my awareness, I might as well have had duct-tape over my mouth. I was determined not to talk too much, brag, or give advice. Unfortunately, all my efforts failed because like James said, “who can tame the tongue.” Although, you may not be able to completely control your tongue, the following “remedies” may help lessen the symptoms of an untamed tongue.
1. Two ears, one mouth
An alternative to speaking too much is listening. If you truly listen then you can’t be speaking. I’m sure you’ve heard that you were given two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19
2. Out of the heart the mouth speaks
A remedy to the symptom of a talking too much about oneself is being God-centered. If our hearts are focused on God each morning and throughout the day, then our words will praise Him and not ourselves. We will direct others to Him instead of bragging about ourselves. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
3. Only advise when asked
A big problem I have is giving my advice or opinion when I wasn’t asked. It reminds me of the 3 friends of Job who try to give him “advice” about why he is suffering. They try to convince Job that he is suffering because of some unconfessed sin. In the end God rebukes these men because they did not speak what was true of Him (Job 42:7-9). When a friend approaches you with a problem, do not offer your advice unless they request it. Then as much as is possible direct that friend back to God and truth in scripture.
Do you struggle to control your tongue? Which of the 3 do you struggle with the most: talking too much, bragging, or over-advising? Have you found a good resource or help in this area of pride?