The Valve
Luann Prater

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." James 3:5 (NIV)

My husband asked me to pick up some diesel fuel for the tractor. I had his truck and he had put the gas can in a box so it wouldn't tip over. Now, I'm 5'2", so can we just start there? Things that taller-than-me folks can do becomes a bit more of an issue for this vertically challenged gal. I pumped the gas into the can then tried to lift it, not only up to the bed of the truck, but over the top edge of the box. It was then I discovered the little valve cover was open.

A cup of gas escaped through that tiny opening, and strategically ran from the top of my t-shirt to the top of my pants. I panicked that my cell phone might ring and light my fire! That wasn't the type of flame I was hoping God would fan in my life!

I scrubbed and scrubbed in the shower but the stench of gas remained in my nostrils.

My lips are like that little valve. It is such a small opening, yet the fuel that escapes can be unpleasant, caustic and even deadly. Loose lips have snapped at my family. Harsh tones have left friends feeling poisoned. Careless words have killed the spirit in a vulnerable child.

James tells us that our tongue is like a restless evil full of deadly poison. Ouch! My husband didn't want me to spill that gas; we wanted to use it for good. God doesn't want our tongues to open unless they are going to encourage and spur one another on.

Several years ago I made a very small, but very life-changing decision. When a hurtful thought comes into my head, I tighten my lips and force a pause button to appear in my brain. When I allow myself to have just a second to think about the potential hazard that could come from 'speaking my mind' it gives the Holy Spirit time to check my heart and motives. In that pause moment I say, "Lord, take control of this tongue." And He does.

Do I get it right every time? No. But I can see fewer wrecks in my life, fewer wounds, fewer poison-tipped darts flying out of this mouth. And I no longer reek of gasoline I added to the fire.
Want to join me? Pause. Seal up the valve and allow the Holy Spirit to work for good through the words you speak.

Dear Lord, thank You for reminding us that our tongue can rip a heart apart, or seal it back together. Teach us to pause long enough to give Your Spirit time to work in and through us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue: What You Say (and Don't Say) Will Improve Your Relationships and accompanying Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues

Chat more with Luann on her blog or hear her on Encouragement Café every Saturday!

Self Talk, Soul Talk: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Jennifer Rothschild

For more daily encouragement, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Application Steps:
Before anything negative slips past your lips today, hit the pause button. Pray that the Holy Spirit take control. Ask God to make you a peacemaker.

Why do I say things I regret later?

When will I surrender my tongue to Jesus?

How can I allow my words to encourage instead of destroy?

Power Verses:
James 3:17, "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (NIV)

Proverbs 27:15, "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day." (NIV)
© 2010 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. It really spoke to me. I pray daily for patience and kindness when dealing with my children... my tongue is my downfall.

True, Imagine what that little part of our body can do
It can cause War
It can cause Peace

Brethren choose Peace

Anonymous Splpmpn Adelete said...

True, Imagine what that little part of our body can do
It can cause War
It can cause Peace

Brethren choose Peace

Blogger Certain Woman said...

I too pray for guidance in the area of my tongue and using it for good and encouraging words,in all situations, but especially toward my husband and children. I will continue to pray that the Lord will guide me in that area. Thank you for this post and God bless.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is really for me. I am one of those jump off the handle gals. I speak before I think. I have tried to curve the tongue, but to think of hitting a pause button is a good item. Should be the same as stop and think before you speak. Mentally pushing a pause button is a good idea.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"fuel for thought" and prayer. Thanks "Luann!
Today is so full, I wanted to tell the 3 little ladies waiting for me to paint with them, "No way today!" (That is the revised version.) I had to pause and realize God placed me there with them too. My negative thoughts are fuel for the fire to spew from me. Curb my tongue Lord. Forgive me when I don't except the joy in serving you! B

Anonymous April said...

Thanks this really hit home. I love the visual of the pause button. I will try that before I spout off next time.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just great. These same thoughts were plaguing me yesterday. I knew if I kept thinking that way then I would have the wrong attitude and end of saying things I shouldn't. I like the idea of a pause button. Yesterday, God helped me push the stop button on those thoughts that were leading me the wrong way. I am so glad that God is there to help me and cleanse my mind and heart! Praise His Holy Name!

Anonymous Lorraine Furtner said...

So true. My mouth has always gotten me in trouble--ever since I was a little girl. "Talks too much" was a common teacher comment on my report card. But, my quick temper and smart-alec attitude have been a problem I've prayed about for years. I like the visual of a pause button added with the prayer. I may pray in for patience in the morning....but not when my temper is flaring--which is when I need to be praying my hardest. Thanks for such an applicable devotion.

Anonymous Cari said...

I have been reading Proverbs 31's devotions for a week now and I want to let you know how they are changing my life. I've been able to apply every devotion to some aspect of my life.

Today's post, was spot on for me. So many times I speak before I think... especially with my girls. Today, I will pray that God gives me a pause button. I need one! Bless you!

Blogger Carolyn White said...

I totally identify! As a short farmers wife myself and as a woman who has had to extract her foot from her mouth. Thanks for the encouragement!

Blogger Carolyn White said...

I totally identify! As a short farmers wife myself and as a woman who has had to extract her foot from her mouth. Thanks for the encouragement!

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