Extinguish this fire…

The past several weeks I’ve been trying to impress upon my children the importance of the words we speak.  I long for them to speak words of kindness to one another, rather than belittling and discouraging words.  I’ve repeatedly quoted Ephesians 4:29 to them, and have instructed them to memorize it as well:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

As I was praying for them in this regard, I felt compelled to study further in the Word about the power of the tongue and of words.  In the process I fell under deep conviction for my own guilt in this area.  I find the following deeply convicting every time I read it:

5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.  James 3:5-12

I’ve written the following verses on notecards to read and meditate on every morning.  I pray that He will use His word to continually convict me and extinguish the fire in my mouth on a daily basis:

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Matthew 12:36-37

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  James 1:26

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.  Proverbs 10:19

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Proverbs 12:18

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.  Proverbs 21:23

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.  Proverbs 25:15

I pray, like Isaiah, my lips will be touched and purified (Isaiah 6:5-7).  May the fire that so readily burns in my mouth be extinguished;  and the fire that burns for Him in my heart be kindled to a blazing flame. 

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.  1 Thessalonians 5: 19-22

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