The 24/7/365 Real Deal
I think two of the toughest things to get under control has to be our tongue and our attitude. I agree with the apostle James in the New Testament when he said,
James 3:7 (The Message Translation)
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, 8 but you can't tame a tongue — it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. 9 With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. 10 Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
Food for thought isn’t it? You can tame a wild animal but getting this tongue of ours under control is a whole different game. Imagine getting the tongue on the same track as our heart 24/7. I’d love it but is it even possible? We’ve all met people who were phenomenal in working a crowd. They looked great, lived big and said all the right things. I remember a guy in ministry who was like that. Great package on the outside but behind the scenes he and his model wife were nothing more than a great show, full of themselves. Behind the scenes they didn’t care about anyone who didn’t further their agenda. Fortunately they crashed and burned pretty quick. That’s the very thing James was warning the church about in this particular chapter. He goes on to say that we’ve got to be a people who act the same way we speak. In other words, you live 24/7 what you preach. We can’t be all ‘lovey-dovey’ on Sunday and be flippin’ the bird in traffic come Monday. (yeah, sorry but hand gestures do count as part of speaking!) It means we have to get two things under control; our tongue and our attitude.
Remember the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? In His final hours before the cross His spirit was in agony so He instructed His closest men to be in prayer for Him. What did they do? Sleep. Their hearts were in the right place but their bodies were exhausted. Jesus was surprised that in His most crucial hour, catching some z’s was more important to His men than being vigilant. He responds to them with, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41). It was a tough lesson, but history shows His men learned something that day. So often our intentions are great but unless we get the heart (attitude) and tongue involved, when D-day comes, those intentions don’t really count for much.
My take away is this. We’ve got to work at being the real deal 24/7. Most often, our tongue is merely a reflection of what’s going on in the heart and that tongue of ours ends up steering the whole ship. Getting the tongue under control means getting the attitude under control. There’s a phrase I borrowed years ago but it bears repeating. How you think is how you see. How you see is how you act/speak. How you act determines your habits and it’s those habits that determine your success or failure. I like the way the Apostle Paul put it when addressing the believers in Corinth,
1 Corinthians 6:12 (The Message Translation)
Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims.
If my habits keep leading me to a brick wall of failure, then it’s time I adjust my thinking. How we see, or our perspective is everything. The downside is that it’s entirely possible to see something or someone totally wrong simply because we aren’t thinking right. The disciples thought sleep was more important because that’s what the body craved. Sleep was important but not that night. Their habit to sleep whenever they felt tired didn’t lead to their success. It’s so easy to tunnel vision like that and end up missing out on crucial moments when we needed to be at the top of our game. It involves not letting your mind make you the slave of your habits. Hence the harnessing of the tongue and attitude!
My wife put it best. We have to remember that harnessing the tongue and attitude isn’t some sort of destination we arrive at. It’s a journey. One that takes time. But it’s a journey we get to own. We may not always like what we get handed, but we have the final say in how we let it affect us, shape us, and ultimately determine our reaction. Now that’s a great perspective!