Proverbs 12:18, James 3:3-12, Proverbs 10:19, Proverbs 21:23

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A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything-or destroy it!

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue-it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can't go on." James 3:3-12 (The Message)

Scary stuff eh? So how can you minimize doing damage and maximize bringing healing?

Here are 3 helpful tips:

1. Recognize your 'flash points'

Each one of us has things which get up our noses, or particular situations which seem to bring the worst out of us. Don't beat yourself up about it, just recognise what / when / who they are! Avoiding these situations all together probably isn't going to help you build patience and self control in the long run and may very well be impractical if not impossible, but if you know what 'triggers' you are susceptible to you can at least prepare yourself. Try asking God beforehand to help you during these situations. You'll be amazed at what difference this can make. Let a friend you trust know about it and ask them to pray with / for you.

2. Pray at all times

This might sound obvious but you'll be amazed at how quickly we forget to do it! My wife prays at the start of each day asking God to help her with what ever situations may arise. She thinks about Paul instructing the church in Ephesus to put on the full armor of God and then she imagines herself putting on each item as she prays for God's help. To be honest with you when she first told me about this I thought "that's a bit weird", but there's no denying that when she prays like this either the situations improve or her ability to handle the situations improves.

3. Speak less!

No I'm not having a laugh, this one's straight out of Proverbs:

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19 (NIV)

It makes common sense doesn't it? The more we say, the more likely we are to put our foot in it. Now I'm not saying we should become mute, but try getting into the habit of checking yourself before you say something. Ask yourself "Do I really need to say this?", "Am I exaggerating or telling the whole truth?", "Will this build someone up or potentially hurt someone?"

And finally from another great Proverb: