With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. James 3:9-10 (NIV)

This week’s Believing God study has challenged me to think about the words I use. We read that the tongue is not easily tamed. Just listen to the torrent of words spilling from a two year old learning to talk…you just shake your head and wonder where they heard all of them. They listen to you! What are you saying when you talk to your husband, friend, neighbor, or on the phone? What kind of language is pouring out of the TV or videos? How do siblings speak to each other? Remember the last time you just had to spread some good gossip…tell an off-color joke…maybe even use words that are offensive? If you listen to the news, it was impossible to miss the recent story of Duane “Dog” Chapman and the firestorm that erupted over some words he used in a private phone call. He suffered immediate consequences for those off-hand remarks. I’m sure I would not want all my conversations broadcast on the TV for the entire world to hear. My comments may only hit an audience of one rather than the whole country but they can be no less harmful. Now that we have a heads up about the tongue’s willful ways, it is time to inventory our speech patterns. Habits die hard but they are not impossible to break. It takes desire, perseverance, and the help of the Holy Spirit to change our conversation to words of praise. But it IS possible. The good news is that this is not a surprise to our Heavenly Father. He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts and is ready, willing, and very able to help us make the changes we know He wants for us. Take a few moments to pray and ask for gentle nudges before you open your mouth. Choose words that are of good report and will encourage rather than tear down. Speak in love to those around you and know that God hears and blesses you in your efforts to speak well.