Here's a riddle for you: throughout the history of humankind, people have been able to tame wolves, chimpanzees, tigers, lions, dolphins, killer whales, seals, and cobras. But there is one thing--one very small thing--each of us have that we have not been able to tame. Do you know what it is?

If you guess, "the tongue," you are absolutely correct.

How many times have you regretted saying something the instant you said it? How many times have your words hurt a friend or a family member without you meaning to? How many times have you said "yes" when you really wanted to say "no"?

Why is controlling this small beast, our tongue, so difficult?

First off, talking does not take much effort. Talking is quite an easy action to do. It does not take much energy to form our words. It does not need much brain power to work our tongue and lips into speech. Because of its simplicity, speaking can be done speedily and absent-mindedly. This is why many of us can even talk aloud while we're sleeping. Not talking takes more effort than talking!

Sometimes, we feel obligated to say a certain something. Have you been asked about how an outfit or hairdo looks? Have you ever said, "It looks great," when you think otherwise?

Occasionally, we say something when we do not even know it. For example, when we get intoxicated after heavy drinking, we may say something completely out of this world. In these cases, we let outside factors control our tongues.

How can you turn this control around, so you can be in control of your tongue? Below are some guidelines to help you tame your tongue.

1. First, get your heart right. Study this verse: "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." (Luke 6:45, ASV)

Your words reflect your heart--your inner being condition. If you're a happy-go-lucky person, your words will be soothing and pleasing to other people's ear; your words will make others around you happy. If you're a miserable person, what will come out of your mouth are complaints, "poor me" statements, pulling down the spirits of those around you.

So if you want to speak delightful, edifying words, make sure your inner condition is clean first. Getting your heart right with God is the best way to tidy up your spirit, for Jehovah is absolutely, 100% holy. Conforming to His holiness will definitely improve your inner nature, and in turn, your words. Ask Him to develop the fruit of the Holy Spirit in you: true love, peace, joy, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (self-control).

2. Avoid confrontational situations. When you feel a conversation will turn into an argument, change the subject. When you're in an argument, leave the room. Calm down first, and return to the discussion later when you have a clearer mind. This will help you avoid saying rash words that may hurt someone's feelings, or worse yet, end up hurting someone physically--or being hurt yourself. Of course, if you need to confront someone about an important matter, state the facts without the unnecessary remarks.

3. Avoid products that may cause you to speak absent-mindedly. This includes heavy alcohol use and illegal drugs.

4. Think before you speak. Before you talk, ask yourself:
Is what I'm about to say necessary?
Is it the truth?
How will this reflect on myself?
How will this help others?
Will I truly mean what I'm about to say?
Will I say this in front of little kids?

5. Most importantly, avoid using "God" or God's name in vain. How would you feel if someone used your name as a part of purposeless interjection or crude expletive? When we speak unmindfully of God and His name, we are showing great disrespect to our very Life-Giver. You wouldn't be here if Jehovah hadn't created humans. So would it be appropriate to say "God bless you" whenever someone sneezes, "Oh, my God!" as an interjection, and "God d*** it"? Is this the way to thank Him for giving you your life? There are many other ways you can use God's name in vain, including making a false oath in His name, doing something bad and saying that God let you do it, blaming Him for our troubles, etc. If you use God's name disrespectfully, without reverence, you would actually be breaking one of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7)

6. Always speak words...
*That build people up spiritually
*That are good and peaceful
*That teaches lessons
*That are the truths
*That glorify Jehovah and Jesus Christ

7. Separate yourself from those whose tongue speak rumors, slanderous and filthy words. Often enough, the associations we choose can influence us positively or negatively, so it's always wise to choose your friends carefully. Choosing the right association also includes choosing the various forms of entertainment wisely. If certain activity or media, like books and movies, condone bad speech or behavior, avoid them. The best book to pick out that will guarantee positive influence is the Bible.

8. Filter what you hear or see. It is impossible to hear or read pleasant, good words constantly. Therefore, it's important to not let the bad words you hear or read affect you. I cringe whenever I hear a curse word. I just mentally throw it away, and make sure it will not affect me, that I will not be influenced to mirror it.

9. If you said or did something wrong, apologize and mean it. Yes, saying "I'm sorry" is hard--but only hard when you make it hard!

10. Finally, ask Jehovah to help you tame your tongue. No, by our self-effort, we are really helpless against our tongue. Only when we let God assist us will we have control over our tongue.

Why is it important to speak good words? It is important because...

1. Our words determine our destiny. For example, we say, "I do," during marriage ceremonies. Those two small words determine whom we will spend with for the rest of our lives.

2. Our words can trap us and lead us to undesirable circumstances. When kids experience peer pressure, they may be forced into saying, "Okay, why not?" to trying drugs and smoke.

3. Are words are example for others to follow. As with everything we do, the way we speak and what we say can be examples after which others can model. Would you like your kids or grandchild talk the way you do? If not, you have to change the way you talk first, in order to set the example you want them to follow. Remember, be the person you want others to be!

4. Above all, we will be judged on what we say. When Judgment Day comes, each of us will have to be accountable for what bad things we've ever said. To avoid being judged for bad words we say, we should not speak them in the first place, starting now!

If you want to yield right words, get your heart right, right now. "For there is no good tree that bringeth forth corrupt fruit; nor again a corrupt tree that bringeth forth good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes." (Luke 6:43-44)

Author's Bio: 

Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author (with twenty book awards, including nine Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Awards), motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet, author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah? God Almighty's Infinite Love & Wisdom to Propel You to Greatness"), contributor to seventeen, and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level in all areas and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University. Visit for more inspiration.