Taming the Tongue at Home

By: Hunter Jones
If you spoke to me after a Sunday service, or texted me to meet for coffee, or ran into me at the grocery store, you might be fooled into thinking that I’m quite far along in my journey of “taming the tongue.” It’s far easier to be “peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere” (James 3:17) when the conversation lasts only a few minutes, and requires little of my true nature to be shared. But look a little further, and my struggles to control my tongue become clear.

No person highlights my need for James’ reminder to tame the tongue more than my husband. The stress of everyday life, from handling household needs to paying bills to wrangling our 13 month-old as she enters toddlerhood to even a small passing comment made on a busy day is all that is needed for me to “set ablaze” the forest of our marriage with my tongue. 

Why, with the person I love most, is it easiest for me to toss aside James’ warning in chapter 3 and take over as pilot of my own ship, rather than being led by the rudder of Christ?

Tish Harrison Warren in “Liturgy of the Ordinary” details the same struggle to make peace with her husband more than anyone else. Warren argues, however, that it is in these everyday moments, whether in our homes or our other small, daily spheres of influence, where our obedience to the Bible’s instruction to make peace by doing things like taming our tongues is most important.

She argues “We are a quarreling people, but God is reforming us to be people who, through our ordinary moments, establish his kingdom of peace. Believing this is an act of faith. It takes faith to believe that our little, frail faithfulness can produce fruit. It takes faith to believe that laying down my sword in my kitchen has anything to do with cosmic peace on earth.”

It’s much easier to focus on how well I’m taming my tongue in public than to reflect on how quickly I let my tongue wound my husband at home. And it’s much easier to convince myself that my obedience “out there” in the world is more important or impactful than my obedience at home, with only my husband’s and God’s ears present. But like Warren argues, when I repent and ask for God’s help to tame my fiery tongue in conversation with my husband on the living room couch, God is not only “reforming” me, but I’m getting to participate in bringing his kingdom of peace to earth.

Now, I’m praying I can start to see these everyday moments with my husband the way God does–as wonderful opportunities to see heaven come down to earth, through the seemingly small choice of asking the Holy Spirit to help me tame my tongue.
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