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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Moseley

Avoiding Scorched Earth: Self-Control in our Words

Updated: Jun 30

Did you ever play with matches as a kid?

Did your parents get really upset when they found out?

Why were our parents get so concerned with us playing with fire?

They knew that we could easily burn the whole house down.

While they couldn't see the future, their maturity and life experiences allowed them to think beyond the immediate moment and anticipate the potential consequences of a little fire growing into a devastating one.

But as kids, we saw only a small glowing flame,

on a single piece of wood,

no bigger than a tooth pick.

It actually looked a lot like a birthday candle, which never hurt anyone,

so what could it hurt . . .

As Christians, we are called to Grow and Mature in our walk with the Lord to move beyond seeing only the immediate short term moment and instead seeing the potential consequences from our choices.

One area that Everyone has room to grow is exercising Self-Control in our Words.

The Word of God describes our tongues (our words) as being like little fires, which are capable of causing devastating harm.

"Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.
Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!"
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: James 4:1

In the heat of the moment and in the rush of emotion, there is a certain smug level of satisfaction with lashing out in anger with a sharp and biting retort, but this is a deceptive and fleeting emotion.

With just a few cruel or careless words, we can easily cause severe damage to our relationships as well as to our Christian witness.

As a follower of Christ, we are charged with following his Example and his Word.

Was Christ tested by people regularly?

Did they bring false accusations against him?

Was he hated and despised by many?

Absolutely, and through it all, he showed perfect restraint - particularly in his Words.

This is his Example.

What does his Word say?

Wherefore, my beloved brethren,
let every man be
swift to hear,
slow to speak,
slow to wrath:
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

My anger doesn't glory God nor do my hastily uttered words.

I need to be quicker to listen and slower to speak.

Is this a really high standard?


Will we achieve it perfectly?


But we still need to acknowledge that this is the standard,

and recognize that we CAN grow closer to it from where we are today.

Let us begin to day to exercise more self control over our words and strive to glorify the Lord both in our deeds and our words.

Let your speech be always with grace,
seasoned with salt,
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6

Today's Reading Psalm 39

I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.

My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.

Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.


Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.

I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.

10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.

11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity.


12 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

A Prayer

Our Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I have not exercised self-control over my words and I have sinned against you and against others on many occasions. Lord, help me to be diligent to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger so I can live a life that is closer to the perfect example of my Lord and Savior. Father, I desire to please you with every aspect of my life and so please, help me to speak in a way that glories you and builds up others around.

In the name of my Lord Jesus I pray.


Additional Resources:

Message by Elder Jonathan Moseley on Controlling our Tongues

Jonathan Moseley is the Pastor of Fair Haven Primitive Baptist Church in Tifton, Ga.

The church is located off of Hwy 82 as you travel East out of Tifton towards Brookfield, on the right about a mile past the fair grounds.

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