Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yucky Talk = Yucky Taste

Have you ever looked at your tongue before? It’s definitely not the prettiest part of our bodies. Our tongue is the organ of taste and speech. James 3 talks about how hard it is to control our tongues… one minute we are speaking good and the next evil. One minute we are encouraging others and the next minute we are tearing them down. It’s a mystery. I learned when my boys were young that they struggled with this immensely. I immediately set out on a mission to “fix” their ugly talk and teach them to speak words of life.

I decided the best way to teach my boys how to control their tongues was with a visual reminder of it’s ugliness. I chose to use vinegar. I told them every time they chose to speak ugly or yucky to others that yucky stuff was going to be put in their mouths. Yucky talk = Yucky taste. It seemed to work to some degree. I threatened vinegar and they would “try” to do better. The taste lingered in their mouths as a reminder of their bad choice of words. To this day, we sill use the vinegar reminder to help them control their speech especially with each other.

The boys really don’t like vinegar. Once I was at the grocery store and needed vinegar for a cooking project and asked one of them to get me some from the shelf and they said, “no, mommy we don’t need anymore vinegar… PLEASE. We promise to talk nice.” I was cooking in the kitchen recently and had a bottle of white vinegar set out on the counter. It was turned so you couldn’t see the label. I didn’t realize it looked like a water bottle until my boys came in hot and thirsty and one went to grab it to guzzle down. I guess the bottles do look similar, but they taste very differently. I stopped him just in time.

Vinegar… a visual reminder that Yucky Talk = Yucky Taste. I wonder what God would choose to use with us. What if every time we spoke negative, harsh, or ugly words God gave us vinegar? It doesn’t taste very good by itself… just ask my boys. I surely wouldn’t want to have it all the time. Sometimes I think we need a visual reminder of some sort to help us with our speech. There are some things that I have noticed that can make all the difference as we speak to others: how we say things, the tone, the attitude behind the words, the words chosen, and the timing. I don’t know if you have noticed this, but all the ugliness seems to come out most with our family. If we are spouting out ugliness to strangers, there must be a lot of ugliness in our hearts.

Hmm… think about it. If your speech had a taste, what would yours taste like? Sour, bitter, sweet…

Psalm 119:103 says
“How sweet are your words to my taste, they are sweeter than honey.”

Lord, please help us speak sweet words like you. It seems like our families see us at our best, worst, and know just how to push our buttons to make us explode. If we can control our tongues at home, we should be able to control them anywhere. What a great place to practice making your speech sweeter. They may think you are up to something, but with God and His help all things are possible!

I’ve noticed that words and habits are transferable to our children. Some families are yellers and they produce children that yell back. Others are quiet and the children have never even heard their parents argue in front of them. Negative parents produce negative kids and positive parents produce positive kids. With God’s help, you can stop the transfer of negative qualities and pass on a fresh, healthy, and godly heritage for your family.

With that in mind, I am choosing to work on my speech daily and strive to speak words of life to my family. I want to be their biggest cheerleader. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I strive every day to do it. I have posted a note on my mirror as a reminder to me that says, “Choose to be a Life Giver today.” I catch myself in the middle of sentences realizing… maybe the tone, attitude, or timing is off on this encounter with my family member. When I change my words to make them sweeter, I have noticed that I get a better response from everyone in the house. I have not arrived. I’m on a journey of trying to become more like Christ in this area of my life. Here are some things that may be helpful to you as you endeavor to gain control of your tongue:

Bite your tongue! (Prov. 21:23)
You’ll never be sorry for the hurtful words never spoken. Sometimes the best thing to do is to say nothing and pray. Let God guide your tongue.

Be positive!
(Phil. 4:8-9)
Being positive is a part of having faith. Faith is believing God for what seems impossible. The Christian walk is a walk of faith. We need to believe God for the things we can’t see. If we are constantly looking at things through a negative, critical lense, our Christian walk will become a defeated one. If you have been raised in a negative home, this is something that will take time, but with God’s help you can do it! Positive people rub off on to others. Make friends with some positive people or marry one like me and it helps make the difference!

Be purposeful! (I Thes. 5:11)
Look for opportunities to build others up (especially your family). A lot of people have low self-esteems because they are torn down so much that they can’t lift their heads. The world is an ugly place. I want my home to be a safe, refreshing, and encouraging place for my family to be. Don’t withhold speaking words of life daily to others. Say, “I love you” often. Use words like please, thank you, and I’m sorry. Live a life of no regrets when it comes to your words.
Be purposeful and intentional about building others up!

Luke 6:45 says…
“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

Fill your heart and life with more of God and you will have words of life to give to others. Remember it’s a journey. It’s not easy, but with God’s help and lots of practice we can tame this ugly tongue.

Choose to speak words of life today… give someone else the gift of a kind word, build self-esteem, and learn to sweeten your words. You have the ability to change your world, one word at a time. Be intentional!

Living to leave a legacy!


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