“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” ~ ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬

Let me start with this confession: This is hard for me.

I don’t know if you struggle with being snippy and harsh with your loved ones, but I do.

Not too long ago I confessed that to someone close to me, and their response startled me a little: “I have a hard time believing that. You are always so mild-tempered and never seem frazzled by anything.”

Why did this startle me? Because I know the truth in my heart that controlling my tongue is hard. It was during that conversation I realized something about myself. I intentionally invest and expend a great deal of energy in appearing “in control” at work and, in general, when away from home. What I don’t do often enough is give my family that same level of energy. They are often stuck with the leftovers of my relational energy.

How can this be?!? These are the people I love the most, and yet, they are the ones I treat the worst!

It turns out that James’ caution about the tongue is spot on (James 3), though that really should be no surprise. At times, taming my tongue seems impossible. And it takes an amount of energy and restraint that I struggle to have.

The more important issue I have to deal with, though, is not what comes out of my mouth but my attitude and the condition of my heart. Jesus said that my mouth speaks from the overflow of my heart (Luke‬ ‭6:45‬). So when I let my guard down and speak with anything less than a respectful, gentle tone to my family, what is really happening in my heart? It typically boils down selfishness.

Regarding sin, Paul says “whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) The only “cure” for the real issue is the transforming power of the gospel, that is, the Spirit of God’s renewal of my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2). After all, the fruit of the Spirit is… gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) I must daily… hourly… moment-by-moment submit myself to the Spirt of God and let Him transform my heart.

God, cleanse me from my hidden faults and keep me from willful sins; do not let them rule me… may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:12-14).