Watching Our Words - IHOPKC Blog
In our culture of social media and texting, where emotions stir quickly, how can we learn to control ourselves and really listen to each other?

Watching Our Words

by Adam Wittenberg
12/1/16 Christian Living

Listening is tough. So is holding our tongue. Maybe that’s why the Bible instructs us to do both.

The writer of James tells us, “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19, NASB).

It may seem simple. As Christians we are to listen readily, hold our words closely, and not get angry fast. But this is often easier said than done.

In our social media and texting culture, where people express their thoughts (and anger) quickly, how do we follow God’s Word? Can we learn to control ourselves—and our words—and really listen to each other?

Scripture offers much advice on this (see the book of Proverbs). The Holy Spirit also helps in our weakness (Romans 8:26).

Perhaps the best place to start is by agreeing with God’s Word. We must include ourselves in the “everyone” of James 1:19. It doesn’t matter what your personality is, or what other people do, the Lord says “everyone” for a reason.

The truth is, we all need grace to walk this out—and our God is more than willing to help in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The Bible urges us to watch our words (Proverbs 29:11) and to tame our tongues (James 3:2–12). This applies both to our spoken words and our words on social media. God’s Word is especially relevant today when people express their thoughts freely online, where tempers flare quickly.

Instead of jumping to conclusions, getting angry, or airing all of our thoughts and arguments in public, as Christians we are held to a higher standard. The Lord will judge us—and the world—by our words. “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,” Jesus says in Matthew 12:36, ESV (emphasis added).

But the good news is, “if anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2–4), because the tongue is a very small rudder that turns a large ship.

There is great reward in watching our words. As we learn to really listen—to God and to others—and not let ourselves be easily angered, we become people of peace (Matthew 5:9). And while we may utter careless words at times, we can repent and ask God, and others, for forgiveness. We’ll still feel angry at times—Jesus certainly did—and yet, the Bible tells us “be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). This can mean restraining our desire to lash out, and refusing to vent all our frustration, in person or online.

The Christian walk isn’t easy. Jesus said that anyone wanting to follow Him would have to “count the cost,” “deny themselves,” and “take up their cross” (Luke 14:28 and 9:23), but the Holy Spirit is our promised helper (John 14:16). The Lord wants His people to resemble Him—gentle and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29), not crying out in the streets or quarreling (Matthew 12:19), but quick to forgive (Luke 23:34).

The desire to listen and watch our words is a great way to do this!

You may want to pray a daily prayer like this:

“Father, I want to be like Jesus: quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Please help me do this in every area of my life—at school, work, home, with friends, and online. Wherever I go and whatever I say, give me Your words and peace. Help me, Holy Spirit, to tame my tongue. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Blessings to you as you walk toward the Lord, “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Question: What is one way you can start watching your words?

Adam Wittenberg


    A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.

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