Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs.
Ephesians 4:29

The Dilemma

In college I had a roommate whose moods changed like the Minnesota weather, warm and sunny one day and brutal cold the next. One morning she’d be super cheerful. Inwardly I’d breathe a sigh of relief.

Great! It’s going to be a good day, I’d think as I head off to class.

But by lunch time, she’d storm into our dorm room and slam the door behind her.

Living with her was totally unpredictable. I never knew what to expect or which “Melanie” (name changed) would show up from one day to the next. It was confusing and exhausting.

That’s the same dilemma people have when we’re inconsistent with the kinds of things we say. Scripture says we show our faith by what we do and what we say. But it’s more than just a matter of controlling our tongue and teaching our kids to do the same. It’s the consistency of controlling the tongue.

When your daughter says, “Mom, I love you so much” and then turns around and complains to you, that’s not being consistent. When your son sings praise songs at church and later that week mutters about a friend, “He’s so stupid!” that’s inconsistent.

How can two completely different things come out of the same mouth?

Inconsistency undermines credibility. People won’t know what to expect or who the “real” kid is. More importantly, it can keep your child from sharing Jesus in a believable way with those around them.

Two object lesson options to use with your kids

Press the button and you expect what comes out to be what’s on the label.

#1 Super-simple casual object lesson (1 min.)

(Something you can say while you’re standing at the beverage dispenser)

  1. Ask a short question to get them thinking – What would you do if you pressed the Coke button and Dr. Pepper came out? How would you feel if you pressed the lemonade button and lemonade came out for a while but then Mountain Dew gushed out?
  2. Make a quick point That’s the same thing that can happen with people. One minute praise worship comes out of their mouth. Another minute they’re saying angry words.

Being a follower of Jesus means controlling your tongue. It’s being consistent with everything that comes out of your mouth–no matter where or what day of the week or who you’re talking to.

#2 Complete object lesson (5 min.) 

  1. If we were standing at the soda fountain at _______ (name of restaurant), what kind of drink would you get?
  2. How would you feel if it kept giving you Fruit Punch when you wanted lemonade (or the other way around)? (Frustrated, happy, upset, confused)
  3. What would you do if you pressed the lemonade and half the time Fruit Punch came out but the other half lemonade came out? (Tell the restaurant they need to fix the problem; complain; try a different kind of drink)

In any case, you wouldn’t put up with it, right? Why? Because it’s not right. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. 

Controlling the Tongue

It doesn’t make any more sense when kind, encouraging words come out of your mouth one minute and then “garbage” (tattling, gossip, complaining, mean words) the next. It’s just not the way it’s supposed to be.

It makes no sense at all for praise songs to pour out of your mouth at church on Sunday and then an unkind joke on the bus the next day. Or if you said to a friend at school, “Hi, Gina. How’s it going?” and then turned around at a sleepover the day and say, “Gina is such an idiot.”

Having two different kind of words come out of the same mouth doesn’t make sense.

What God says…

Sometimes it [the tongue] praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?

James 3:9-11

This isn’t right! What’s right (and wise) is controlling the tongue by saying words that always build others up and never tear them down (Ephesians 4:29)

What creative ways have you used to get your kids to think about controlling what they say?

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