Zip It by Karen Ehman–Book Review

For many Christians, sins of the tongue are the most difficult to avoid.  Critical words, unkind words, even curse words flow out of our mouths willy-nilly because we often speak without thinking.  Sometimes we offend others with our speech without even realizing what we’ve done.  It’s important to remember that all of our words are a witness to Christ, and should edify and encourage, not tear down or feed our own ego.

Zip It: The Keep It Shut 40-Day Challenge

I wish I had discovered this little book earlier this year.  Subtitled “The Keep it Shut 40-Day Challenge, it includes daily devotions, take-aways, a specific Bible verse to contemplate, and a closing prayer.  It would be perfect to use as a spiritual discipline during the 40 days of Lent.  Even better would be using this book with a small group that provided accountability in following the many good suggestions for “taming the tongue.”

Karen uses both Biblical and personal stories to illustrate important points including::

  • The power of our words
  • The heart-mind-mouth connection
  • Taming out tempers
  • When to be silent and when to speak up
  • How God’s Words affect our words

and more.  Reading this book carefully and prayerfully will surely result in better habits of speech.  I recommend it, and would like to get a group together and give it a try.  It would be a big help in teaching us to love one another in word and deed.

“You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day,

By the things that you do and the words that you say.

Others will read what you write, whether faulty or true.

Say, what is the gospel according to you?”

VERDICT:   5 stars

 

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Live at Peace/Tame Your Tongue

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Sacrificial Speech

“It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together

In Michele’s post What is Sacrifice?? she mentioned that people give up all kinds of things as a sacrifice to God during Lent.  We can give up anything that prevents us from directing our life toward God.  So here’s an idea:  consider fasting from careless or uncaring talk.  The book of James says,

“If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is in vain.” James 1:26

In other words, failing to control our tongue is very important.  It can make our other sacrifices worthless.  We all know that words can hurt, yet we still say damaging things and then try to excuse them:  “I was only telling the truth,” “I just didn’t think,” or “he (or she) shouldn’t be so sensitive.”  Keep in mind that gossip and foolish talk are included in Biblical lists of sinful behavior (2 Corinthians 12:20, Ephesians 5:4) right along with things we consider much worse.  We can’t excuse sins of the tongue, any more than we can excuse theft or murder.

In point of fact, we are not just called to abstain from cruel words, but to speak positively as often as possible.  In a recent sermon on the Ten Commandments, our pastor directed us to Martin Luther’s explanation of false witness in the Small Catechism:

“We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

Notice this explanation goes beyond saying, “if you can’t say something good, be quiet.”  It goes further than telling us not to lie about others.  It says we should speak kindly about everyone and truly believe the best of them.  We could boil it down to these words from Ephesians:

“Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

So during the Lenten season, let’s not just give up foolish speech, let’s replace those words with others that encourage.  Say, “thank you,”  “I care about you,”  I appreciate your hard work,”  or “how may I help?”  There are many opportunities to affirm someone every day.