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August 23, 2023

Controlling Your Temper And Your Tongue

Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness.

–Ecclesiastes 10:12-13

The fool is a constant theme throughout the book of Proverbs. And in Ecclesiastes 10, Solomon added to what he wrote in Proverbs and gave us several more characteristics of the fool. If we want to live successful lives, we need to avoid foolish behavior.

So what does a fool do? A fool cannot control his temper. Look at verse 4: “If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.” Have you ever had a boss chew you out? Solomon was saying if your leader gives you a piece of their mind they cannot afford to lose, do not respond with anger; instead, respond with composure. In Proverbs 15:1 Solomon said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Being quick-tempered is foolishness.

A fool cannot control his temper, but he also cannot control his speech. Ecclesiastes 10:12-13 says, “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness.” A fool runs at the mouth, and his tongue will end up devouring him.

One of the greatest evidences of whether or not you are a Christian is your ability to control your speech. James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” If you find yourself continually engaging in slander and gossip, you need to examine your heart.

John McArthur told a story about going to the dentist for a routine checkup. The dentist discovered a tumor on John’s tongue, and he told John, “You need to go to a surgeon and have it removed.” John replied, “Now look, you start messing with my tongue and you’re really getting to me. I live by my tongue.” The tumor turned out to be benign, but John continued to think about what he said to that dentist. He reflected, “That’s very true in quite another way than I intended it. The tongue really is you. . . . The tongue is a tattletale, and it tells on the heart.”

Jesus said the best indicator of what is in your heart is your speech (Luke 6:45). And a fool cannot control his speech.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Maxims for Maximum Living” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

John MacArthur, “Taming the Tongue, Part 1” (sermon), December 7, 1986, Grace to You,

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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