Hold Your Tongue
By Elisa Morgan
“Shhhhhhhhh!” The command hissed from the front of the room at me. I was in junior high – was it English class? Turning my head to the boy behind me, I was engaged in our typical bantering about this and that. “Shhhhhhh! Hold your tongue!” the teacher held her finger to her lips and glared at me.
Okay. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have been talking when she was teaching. While employing a rather old-fashioned phrase to do so, the teacher made her point. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent and discerning the place for each is vital for communication in our world.
The book of James is punctuated with teachings on the power of the tongue. James expresses the two-edged effect of the tongue – able to help and to hurt. He guides us through the etiquette of dialogue, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...” (1:19)
Hold your tongue. There is great wisdom in learning to exercise our voices with discipline, with care and with clarity. And talking often is most effective only after listening.
But wait. Something else happens inside us when we hear, “Hold your tongue.” We hear, “Hush!” or “Your voice is not needed.” We want to be good, polite, obedient…liked. So, we go silent. We let the mic pass. We swallow our objections to injustice. We step back from the podium. We put down our pen. We close up our laptops.
What if we hear this phrase a bit differently? “Hold your tongue. Your voice. Your take. Your story. Your truth. Your offering. What if we hear “Hold your tongue.” Keep it. Care for it. Nurture it. Respect it.
What do you have to say? What difference might you make by saying it? What conversation might you begin? What conclusions might you drive home?
Hold your tongue. Don’t speak when you shouldn’t. But be very clear, a decision not to speak doesn’t offer an excuse not to have a voice. Hold your tongue.
You. Me. Us. I’ll hold my tongue and you hold your tongue and then together, we’ll hold our tongues. Let’s create a chorus of voices, expressing just who our God has made us to be – to each other and to our world.
Elisa Morgan is the cohost of the new podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her latest book is When We Pray Like Jesus. Her other books includeThe Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, andShe Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.