Psalm 39:1 I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent;
I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.
Hold your tongue! As a child it was an admonishment to not talk back. As a teenager, it was turning the other cheek when girl’s sharp barbs were slung in my direction. Any retaliation would just escalate the torture and make things worse. Walk away as if they didn’t matter and it would really get their goat, and maybe hurt a little less. As a young adult, it was compromise, or a swallowing of my pride. Sure, their way made no sense, but they were the managers. Ours is not to question why.
But I found, the more I held my tongue, the worse I felt. Anxiety built up in me until like a volcano I wanted to explode – and usually over something not worth exploding over. That last straw would filter down onto the proverbial camel’s back and- boom.
But, as Christians are we not supposed to hold our tongues? The letter of James says that we are to keep a tight rein on our tongues (1:26). Our Lord Jesus himself kept quiet in front of the Sanhedrin and Herod, knowing that they were going to condemn Him. Yet, He was vocal many a time before that.He admonished the hypocrites, cleansed the temple and even chided his slow thinking disciples.
Here is the difference as I see it. God gave us two of a lot of body parts but only one tongue. James explains in Chapter 3 of his letter that the tongue is our guide and rudder. We can praise and curse with it. There is a time for both. It is all about control. As Christians, God is to be in control of our lives as much as is humanly possible.
God doesn’t tell us to not speak up, just not to speak until we know His Spirit is telling us to do so. Words spoken in haste and anger are hard to take back, and are rarely fruitful. Whoever said “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me” lied. Nothing can tear like a harsh word, and nothing can heal like a kind one spoken in love. Words make thoughts come to fruition, and Jesus is the Word. After all, He spoke the world into existence and on the cross He spoke our sins away.
Hold your tongue, yes, but only to allow God’s spirit to again take control of you, so He can help you handle the situation. Being a Christian does not mean being a milquetoast. It can mean speaking only when you have been spoken to – by God.