Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything. (Proverbs 13:3)
Relate: I failed today. Every single one of my 340 students I love in their own unique way. There is no greater blessing for me than to sit with one of the kids during a break and just pour favor and attention on them as they try in their broken English to show me a toy or a drawing or their new haircut or whatever. I love them all, but I can also just as honestly say I do not love every class. Those students are broken into seventeen classes of about twenty students that I teach once a week. I have four each of first through third grade and five classes of fourth graders. Some of those classes, like 4C, I can’t wait to get in there and teach. They make my job fun. Other classes, like 4D, I dread going into. There are some classes that are on again, off again. There are good days and there are rough days. I have not had a good day yet with 4D. I have tried the carrot, I’ve tried the stick. I’ve tried every classroom management technique I know. I can honestly say they keep me sharp because I am constantly researching to try and find something that can help me turn the corner.
Today I failed. We are about ten minutes into the lesson and the same five students are paying attention while the rest devolve, once again, into a half dozen separate conversations. Finally, I just yell, “Will you all just shut up!” That was bad enough but as everyone gets suddenly quiet I follow it up with, “Can’t you ever do anything right?”
As soon as I said it, I wanted to eat those words. In third grade I was a little demon. I had a first year teacher and on a fairly consistent basis I took her to the edge of her sanity. I am absolutely certain I deserved it, but it still cut like a knife when she shouted the exact same thing. I can still picture the classroom, the desk I was standing behind, and where she was in front of the chalkboard when she said, “Will you shut up, already! Can’t you do anything right?” Those words have scarred me, and today I passed them on to eighteen more students.
React: James said that humanity has been and will be able to tame all kinds of animals and even large vehicles that we can direct from a very small control center, but no one will be able to tame the tongue. He calls it a restless evil full of deadly poison. I can picture a snake curled up just swaying back and forth watching for a moment to strike. Then, before anyone has a chance to react, it lashes out striking its victim. Sometimes I feel like that is the way my tongue works. I think everything is OK. Everything seems still, then in one reckless moment that tongue is jumping out of my mouth to inflict its venom.
Jesus said that one day we will have to give an account to every careless word we have spoken. How many times have I lashed out, ruining everything? How many times has a careless comment or observation been poison dripping from my mouth that I am not even aware about. One day, when I stand before God and give account, will I be able to see the scarring my words have caused from the perspective of the victims to whom they were directed? Are we being good and godly representatives of Christ with what we say? When we speak, do people know we are Christians by our love?
Help me, please. I am desperate for Your wisdom and Your discipline because on my own there is absolutely no way I could ever control my tongue. At the most unexpected of moments, over and over again, bitter poison drips from my mouth ruining everything within earshot. Forgive me for my failure. Protect the ears and the minds of my victims. Help me to be more aware and more controlled in what I say. Let my words speak life and bring glory to You with every single utterance.