How to Control Your Tongue—7 Keys

lady covering mouth with hand

I love to talk! However, a few years ago the Lord clearly showed me that I needed to change. My tongue was not under His control. Not only was I using too many words, but they were often unwholesome.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…. (Eph 4:29)

So, one Christmas morning many years ago, I gave Jesus my tongue for Christmas.

However, it was very difficult for this gabber to follow through on her promise, but the Lord enabled me and little by little I experienced success. I noticed that my words became more purposeful and God-honoring (Read more here).

Now I want to tell you how God helped me to do it. Here are…

7 Keys in How to Control Your Tongue

1. Believe Your Words Truly Matter

Words can tear down or build up (Pr 18:21). We must realize how important our speech is; otherwise, we won’t do anything to change, and we’ll continue to hurt people.

2. Evaluate Your Words

Many of us are not even aware that our speech is often negative. We need to think before we speak and pay attention to what we are saying and how we are saying it. Consider:

  • Are most of your words complaining, critical, hurtful, disrespectful, or just generally pessimistic?
  • What topics are you talking about? Are they always centered on self or what’s wrong with others and the world? Does your conversation ever include God and others?
  • The number of words you use. Are you yakking with a purpose or are most of your words frivolous? (See Mat 12:36-37). Are you giving other people a chance to talk?

I know these are tough questions but…

Without gauging our words we can never change our words!

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your shortcomings.

3. Choose to Change

Being aware isn’t enough. We must intentionally put a muzzle on our mouths! (Ps 39:1)

4. Surrender Your Heart

Jesus says the root of our speech problem is our heart.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. (Mat 12:34-35 NJKV)

Without God, we are not good (Rom 3:10). However, as believers, we have been given a new heart from which to speak. As you choose to surrender your heart to God, you are in effect, surrendering control of your tongue.

5. Change What’s IN Your Heart

Pastor John MacArthur says…

“When the heart is jammed full—as the phrase, out of the abundance of the heart, indicates—it has to have an overflow valve, and the mouth is that valve. The mouth is the overflow valve to what is in the reservoir.”1 

When we get jostled with life’s challenges, our mouths will involuntarily reveal what’s truly inside our hearts and minds.

What’s in your reservoir? Change it by meditating on God’s Word (Rom 12:2). 

6. Keep Pressing Ahead and Be on Guard

It takes time to change our tongues. Believe me, this yakker has failed many times! It’s one step at a time, one word at a time. Forgiveness is available, but we must do our part in confessing and repenting (i.e. trying to change our behavior—or rather our words in this case 😊).

We also cannot ever go on auto-pilot. This motor-mouth will always have to put the brakes on her tongue! Not until you and I are completely redeemed in heaven will our words be automatically God-honoring.

Lastly my friends,

7. Trust God to Do His Part

Rest assured that God will do His part to help you evaluate and change your words! You and I cannot “for if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way” (Jas 3:2 NLT). No man can tame the tongue (Jas 3:8), but God sure can—if you let Him!

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:14)

Helpful Resources
What Are YOU Going to Give Jesus for Christmas This Year?
Submission: A Beautiful Word
Surrender: Part 1—Why Should We Surrender?
How to Self-Evaluate with the Holy Spirit
From the Vertical to the Horizontal: Empowered to Relate to People God’s Way

Except where indicated all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version®. NIV. ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
(NKJV) New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.