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A Perfect Man

If anyone thinks himself to be religious,

and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart,

this man’s religion is worthless. James 1:26 (NAS)

For we all stumble in many ways.

If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man,

able to bridle the whole body as well.

James 3:2 (NAS)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, bur words will never harm me.”

That little singsong rhyme just isn’t true, is it? Torn flesh and broken bones will heal, but there are millions who will carry open, bleeding, ugly sores to their graves, sores inflicted years ago by sharp words, spoken in a moment of haste and emotional eruption.

We have asked hundreds of people over the years to answer this question for us: What one thing would you say has hindered your marriage and kept it from becoming all that you dreamed it would be?

Forty-two out of every one hundred gave this response: Communication. Other answers ranged from financial incompatibility to sexual incompatibility; from spiritual imbalance to selfishness, pride, laziness, or children. But forty-two out of every one hundred pointed to lack of communication as the major hindrance in their relationships. That’s astonishing!

Webster defines communication as intercourse by words, letters, or messages; interchange of thoughts and opinions.

As women we rely on our tongue to defend ourselves instead of physical strength; as men it isn’t “cricket” to hit your wife, so you cut her to ribbons with words; as parents we feel that surely there is a more “civilized” way of disciplining a child, so you wind up in devastating word battles; as friends we wear our feelings on our shoulder and when a person touches those carefully balanced feelings, we swiftly react and a friendship is shattered. Schisms erupt and the healing process takes months or years or even a lifetime.

James tells us that (3:6) the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

You say, “I agree with you, Anabel, but knowing that what I say can cause pain and separation beyond my power to heal, how do I keep from spewing out the hurt or anger or vengeance that comes when others use their tongue to attack me?”

First of all, you must agree with this, I cannot control my tongue, but Christ can control what I say through me. Yes, your emotions are hitting sixteen when they are designed to stop at ten! Your whole body is screaming for release and steam is fairly billowing from your ears. I understand that. But if Christ cannot control my tongue, then He is not omnipotent! It is that simple. If there is anything where He is limited, then He is not God!

What to do? Practical steps:

1. Practice the presence of God in your life every second of the day.

2. Practice allowing Him to face the small issues’then when a BIG one comes

you will have practiced for it.

3. Avoid confrontations when you are emotionally drained, exhausted, or not

feeling well. Just retreat and say, “Let’s discuss this later.”

4. Isolate yourself until the steam stops coming out your ears!

5. Bite your tongue if necessary to keep it from spewing out invectives,

expletives, or half-truths

6. Never use the words “YOU NEVER” or “YOU ALWAYS.”

7. Begin thanking God for His power to overcome, for controlling you, for giving

you insight, for fighting this battle for you.

8. Stop reliving the incident again and again. “I should have said… What did she mean with that remark? He always lies about everything! She doesn’t have a brain in her head. I’ll get even’just you wait and see!” Ad infinitum!

Yes, sticks and stones may break my bones, but those broken bones eventually heal. Words cause wounds that may never heal.

Small boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds.

You can’t do that when you’re flying words!

Careful with fire is good advice, we know;

careful with words is ten times doubly so.

Thoughts unexpressed may fall to earth yet dead,

but God, Himself,

can’t stop them once they’re said.

Will Carleton

Dear Lord, You know that I have “erupted” many, many times and am still capable of building up a forbidding head of volcanic steam when I do things MY way. (I regret to confess.) But You have shown me the answer’Your answer’allowing You to fight my battles. May we grasp this truth and begin to experience Your strength in fighting our word battles’very difficult, destructive, painful battles. Thank You, Lovingly, Anabel

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.