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An important aspect of living as disciples of Jesus in our homes is learning to control our speech and use our tongues for good. We are reminded in Titus 3:1-2 “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” An excellent prayer for starting the day in quarantine is Psalm 12:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over my lips!”

In order to use your tongue in a way that expresses your love for God and for others, make a commitment each morning to stop and think before you speak. It is very easy to speak without thinking about the impact of what you say. Your words can have a positive or a negative impact on all within earshot of your conversation. You can communicate love, hope and confidence, or anxiety, frustration and despair — directly or indirectly.

By avoiding careless, hurtful comments you will avoid unnecessary conflict. Monitor your tone of voice — sometimes the words are sweet, but the tone is bitter: “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” (Proverbs 26:20) Do not use humor that causes embarrassment or hurt feelings.

Even if you do not agree with decisions made by government or Church authorities, speak with respect. If you need to vent, do it in an appropriate way with the appropriate people: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Use your tongue for good: say thank-you, give compliments, build others up with your speech. Taking time as a family to verbally honor each other creates a family culture of appreciation and respect. Make honoring a part of your family culture — on special occasions and every day. Another way to show love is to listen. Ask questions that help family members express how they are feeling. Look at them and listen to their answers! Don’t be quick to judge. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your response to what they say: “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

Finally, speak often of God’s care and provision and verbalize your gratitude for what God has done for you. Pray together out loud as a family. Saying simple spontaneous prayers that express gratitude and ask for God’s provision is a way of including him in family conversations: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)