One of the quickest ways to destroy your reputation as a follower of Christ is with spoken (or typed) words.
“…How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” – James 3:5-6
The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. Words cut deep, and often from those we love the most.
James devotes a good chunk of chapter three to describing the tongue and its power. We see elsewhere in Scripture where our speech is to be grace-giving, and fit for building up (Ephesians 4:29). Even as youth, our speech should set an example for others (1 Timothy 4:12). What comes out of the mouth is from the heart (Matthew 15:18). Dirty talk and crude jokes and such we are to put away from our mouths (Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 5:4). James goes on to say in verse 10 that “with the same mouth we bless others, we tear down those who are also made in God’s image. These things ought not to be so.”
We are quick to type things to people we would never say to their faces. Hiding behind a keyboard does not give you the anonymity you think it does. Arguments rife with anger are quick to produce mean and wrathful words, many of which we store in our back pocket just in case we need it. Telling someone you could have brought a mean subject up but didn’t, is still bringing it up.
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (James 1:19)
What we DO want proceeding from our mouth is fruits of the Spirit and more. Words of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Songs of praise (Ephesians 5:19).
So, let us measure our words carefully and be sure they are kind and necessary, even taking every thought captive before it gets to our mouth (2 Corinthians 10:5).
These changes cannot happen under our own power, but when we abide in Christ and He in us.
The more time we spend in prayer and in the Word, the more the language and vocabulary of Scripture will saturate our daily speech.
Psalms and Proverbs are a great place to start.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11