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Let My Tongue Be Silent

If I'm not attuned to the Holy Spirit

Young man with finger to lips: "Shh."

Sometimes I just need to keep my mouth shut.  If I’m not tuned in to God and constantly letting his Holy Spirit guide me, silence may be better than anything I might say.


I thought about this because of a song we sang in church on Sunday.  The refrain was: “Let my tongue be silenced, if ever I forget you!”  The phrase is a riff on Psalm 137:6, which says, “Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, / if I do not remember you” (NRSV).


We can do much good, and much harm, with our tongues


How often I can forget God in the heat of the moment and say things that were better left unsaid.  I can walk straight out of church or leave my quiet time with God and within minutes say things I shouldn’t say.


James cautions us to “bridle” our tongues (James 1:26), noting that “the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.  Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.  The tongue is also a fire” (James 3:5-6a, NABRE).


Our mouths can be used to accomplish great things, or to do much damage.


There are times when I feel like my words are inspired and make a real difference to the people I am talking to.  There are times when I ask God for wisdom to say just the right thing to someone, and God gives me the words.  There are times when I just go about my business, not particularly thinking about God, but my training of my tongue protects me from saying anything inappropriate.


And then there are times when I say things that I quickly realize I should not have said, things that do not reflect my faith in Jesus and my desire to always be guided by his Spirit.


How God helps us


I would not want God to act regularly in our day the way he did with John the Baptist’s father Zechariah, who was rendered speechless for nine months due to his inability to believe that God would actually give him the son he long desired (Luke 1:5-23, 57-79).  Really, we don’t want that kind of spectacle in our lives.  A little nudge would be good enough, wouldn’t it?


But of course, God is constantly giving us those little nudges.  Christians have been given a new life in Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit to empower us to be like Jesus.


The Holy Spirit is constantly nudging us, trying to work the character of Jesus into the fabric of our being and then lead us in actions that bring God’s life into the world around us.


We just aren’t very good at noticing those nudges.  And sometimes we aren’t very good at exercising our will to govern our tongue even when we notice the nudges we receive.  Too often, we blaze right through God’s warning signs, fraying relationships and causing unnecessary pain.


Wouldn’t it be good if we could have a momentary sense of pause (let me tongue be silent!), right before w are about to say something that is not edifying, something that is not consistent with our faith, something that God would never want us to say?


God doesn’t cause us to experience what Zechariah experienced.  He mostly lets us suffer the consequences of our choices.  He let us live with the results of our words.


And so my prayer is: Let me hit the pause button so that my tongue is silenced when it is about to say something that will not be beneficial.


Staying attuned to the Holy Spirit is key


The problem is, if my tongue is primed to say something unhelpful, it probably means my mind and heart have already gotten worked up, off course, on fire.


So I need to allow myself to be transformed at the core of my being, not just in those fiery moments.  If I cooperate with God as he works to remake me on the inside, to make me like Jesus, then when the challenging moments come, what comes out from inside of me will come from the One who is already at work within me.


So perhaps my prayer should be:


Every day, may I stay so attuned to the Holy Spirit within me that, when challenged, my tongue will know when and and how to stay silent rather than saying things that indicate I have forgotten God.


That’s a prayer I can pray today, and every day!



You presented the post very nicely with your brief intro on Facebook. Thanks for sharing it so others can consider it as well. May we stay tuned in to the Holy Spirit to guide our words!


This was a very timely post after an unkind remark by me yesterday. I have shared this on facebook but am unhappy that it didn't present the title properly, so I had to add my own. I don't think that everyone will understand that the article, not just the title is whatI want them to experience.

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