Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Power of the Tongue

Anger got the best of me. The realization that we had been taken advantage of was an unpleasant feeling. Some workers had stopped by our house asking if we needed additional pine straw for our yard. And the truth of the matter was, we did. They agreed to install the pine straw for the price we typically paid for just the straw. Good deal, right? Wrong.

We made a crucial mistake. We didn't count the number of bales of pine straw they actually laid, and when it was time to pay the workers, the bill they handed us was outrageous. Having laid hundreds of bales of pine straw over the years, and seeing the trailer they were hauling, we knew there was no way they had installed the number of bales they claimed to have laid. But we had no way to prove it...

Hindsight is always 20/20. We tried to question the workers politely, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had made an honest mistake. But they stuck to their story that, yes indeed, they had laid 265 bales of pine straw in less than two hours. In fact, the man who was the head of the crew assured me that he could lay 100 bales of pine straw in one hour - no problem.

As the tales got taller, I could feel my pulse quicken. Did this man honestly think I believed him? I told him in no uncertain terms that I knew he had cheated us. By now, my emotions had kicked into high gear. All rational thinking out the window, I wanted this crew to know we were onto their charade.

In the midst of my tirade, I disregarded the fact that I wasn't living up to who I am in Christ. The reality that my unkind words were just as wrong as their lies, didn't even cross my mind. I have to admit that I wasn't seeing them as Christ does. People who needed to be pointed to the Savior. I was more concerned about the money we were losing.

I was ashamed of myself. When all was said and done, we ended up paying the outrageous bill and I apologized for my behavior. Did we get ripped off? Yes! Did we have a reason to be upset? Absolutely! But in spite of the injustice, I could have chosen to respond differently. God's Word is clear about the results of anger, "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God," (James 1:20; KJV).

Over and over, I'm reminded that God's way is to be slow to anger, "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly," (Proverbs 14:29). Again, King Solomon writes, "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife," (Proverbs 15:18).

I'm thankful for a God who is patient with me, and is described as, "...merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy," (Psalms 103:8). Although my tongue got the better of me in this particular situation, today I choose to submit myself to the Lord, allowing Him to renew my mind with His Word. The truth of the Proverbs rings clear, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." (Proverbs 18:21a). Today I choose life-giving words!

Do you struggle with anger? What will you do differently in order to be slow to anger?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your forgiveness when I fail. Help me to submit to Your Holy Spirit so I can speak words that draw others to You. When I'm focused on my 'rights,' remind me that life's not about me, but each encounter with others is an opportunity to point them to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.


  1. Do I struggle with anger? That is a good question Maria. I would naturally say no... but sometimes I can snap at something totally unexpected and I surprise myself... is this still in me?? Is this me??
    So, although I have conquered many bad habits with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am still a work in progress!

  2. Thank you for reminding me to be slow to anger which is just what I needed to hear at this moment.

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  4. James 1:19-20 says, "But be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."
    You sure aren't alone, Maria. It takes a lot to make me mad, but when I get there, I have to really work to keep my tongue from lighting fires.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Hi, Maria:
    I needed to read this today. This post is one of the many reasons I follow your blog--I often feel like your posts speak to me directly!

    Do I struggle with anger? I'm a lot better regarding my temper now than I was a few years ago. I attribute that to setting more clearly defined boundaries.

    As for what I do to continue being slower to anger, I remind myself in the heat of the moment that once my ire has settled, I will be responsible for everything I said and did. Regret is the most powerful emotion, I believe, so I have incentive to avoid acting out of anger if it means decreasing regretful situations later.

    Thank you for the Scriptural references. I am making a note of them as we speak!

    Have a beautiful weekend.

  6. Maria,
    Oh yes, I constantly have to remind myself that I have Christ's blood running through my veins and I need to have His characteristics - one of which is 'slow to anger'. It says that over and over again in His word. I need those words running in the back of my mind at all times!

  7. Hi Maria -

    Someone I once knew excused their bad behavior by saying, "Well, if you hadn't..." They were good at turning the tables on other people and not taking responsibility for their actions.

    This is a good lesson. We can take responsibility for how we behave without excusing the shortcomings of others. As someone once said, "Come in like a straight arrow." We confuse the issue when we allow ourselves to respond in kind.

    Susan :)

  8. Marja - Thanks for your honesty! I know I find myself thinking that I don't struggle with a certain vice, only to be thrown into a situation where it rears its ugly head. I'm definitely a work in progress. One who's thankful for God's mercy and grace. Learning to submit to the Holy Spirit more each day! Have a blessed week, my friend! Hugs! :)

  9. Terra - So encouraging to have you stop by! Praying things are going well for you. It's always a joy knowing that the Lord is using the things He's teaching me to speak to other hearts as well. Have a blessed week!

  10. Nelson - Welcome! Thanks for stopping by Life Lessons and leaving a comment. I post on Mondays and Wednesdays and invite you to come back soon. Look forward to checking out your site. God bless!

  11. Marji - Thanks for the comment! Isn't it scary to read about the power of the tongue? Hard to believe it can start a fire...And we all know the massive damage a fire can do! Glad for the warnings in God's Word, and the truths about keeping my tongue in check! Have a great week! Blessings!

  12. Janette - It's always encouraging and humbling to hear how the Lord is using the lessons He's teaching me to help others. I praise Him for that! Sounds like He's taught you some effective ways to deal with your anger. Remembering that we're responsible for everything we've said goes a long way to tempering our often sharp tongues. Thanks for this helpful reminder! Hugs and Blessings!

  13. Susan - Great to see you! Remembering who we belong to, goes a long way toward tempering our speech. When I submit to His will and pray prior to difficult situations, I can be victorious in my words. Appreciate your honesty and insight! Have a beautiful week. God bless!:)

  14. Susan J. - Your words of wisdom never cease to amaze me! Thanks again for your insight. Especially love the comment - "We can take responsibility for how we behave without excusing the shortcomings of others." I've needed this reminder often the last few weeks! The Lord is showing me the wisdom of being a person of few words and the power of remaining silent. Have a fantastic week filled with His blessings!