Monday’s Blog: “Tongue in Cheek” by Kerry Johnson

For the next few weeks, I have some wonderful guest bloggers lined up ready to share their inspiring messages. Today’s message is by my dear friend Kerry Johnson. She’s also featuring my article “God’s Unmerited Favor” on her blog tomorrow. Be sure to swing by there. Kerry is a phenomenal writer with a beautiful heart for the Lord. I pray her message on the power of the tongue blesses you as much as it’s blessed me.



Tongue in Cheek

By Kerry Johnson


“Would you hold that thing down?”  In my Novocain and fear-induced state, the words sounded surreal.  The entire left side of my face was numb, and drool was dripping out of the corner of my mouth.  The dentist looming over me was concentrating deeply on his task when he muttered the sarcastic words to the hygienist suctioning out my mouth.  The “thing” getting in his way was my tongue.

I have a personal confession to make.  My tongue is on the big side.  Okay, it’s very big.  I’ve frustrated dentists, grossed out elementary school friends, and even won a contest with this tongue—a who-can-touch-their-tongue-to-their-nose contest.

I can.

What exactly is the tongue, and what is its purpose?  The tongue is a powerful muscle on the bottom of our mouths.  Its main function as an organ is tasting food since much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in taste buds.  It’s made up of groups of muscles and, like the heart, it’s always working.  The tongue is also able to expertly bind and contort itself to form letters when we speak.  That’s the kicker. The tongue is absolutely necessary for speech.

I’ve come to realize the amazing power and deadly influence my tongue can have.  It’s the bridge between my heart and thoughts directly to the people around me.  The tongue can be a tool to inflict pain or make someone’s day.  It can bless and it can curse.

As God laid this on my heart to write, a fearful uncertainty settled in my chest.  Not me, Lord.  The excuses came fast and furious.  Lord, I am the LAST person who should write about taming the tongue!  Hypocrite is spelled M-E.  Lord, I have diarrhea of the mouth!  Please don’t ask me to do this!

Still, I felt God pressing on my heart to write about my tongue.  And when I read Proverbs 21:23 one morning, the words washed over me like a holy fire: “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (NKJV).  Was I guarding my tongue for Jesus?  I want to guard my tongue in order to protect my soul – for You, Lord.

What kind of words do I say?  Or, for the writers out there, type?  Words that bless or words that curse? “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Proverbs 15:2, NKJV).  Am I wise or a fool?  Gossip, slander, and lying are foolish and self-serving.  They cause harm to the speaker and the hearer, and they’re welcome ammunition for the devil.

Words spoken in love, praise of others, expressions of gratitude, and encouragement build others up.  “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24, NKJV).

Many verses talk about the tendency of our tongues to be perverse.  The word perverse means something – or someone – that has turned away from what’s good or right and has become corrupt.  “He who has a deceitful heart finds no good, And he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil” (Proverbs 17:20, NKJV).  Our heart condition is evidenced by the words coming off our tongue.  “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4, NKJV).  I pray my tongue will be a “tree of life” and not cause me to “fall into evil.”

When we criticize others, who are made in God’s image and whom He loves as much as He loves us, we’re using our tongue for evil.  How can I use my tongue for God? How do we learn to have a “wholesome tongue” and keep it from causing harm?

There are three important exercises we can do with our tongues to glorify God:

The first exercise I recommend is not using your tongue.  How I struggle with this!  Remember as a child when your mom told you to, “Bite your tongue?”  Though I wouldn’t recommend that, I do recommend keeping your tongue still and giving your ears a workout instead.  “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.  Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Proverbs 17:27-28, NKJV).  Go on a word diet and listen instead of speaking.

Words are compared to arrows shot out of a bow because they fly fast and furious, especially when they’re emotionally driven.  “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19, NKJV).  Generally, I’ve found the higher quantity of words, the lower quality they become.  I’m learning to be more like my quiet, thoughtful husband – talk less, listen carefully, and consider more before speaking.  The result is less complaining and criticizing…less “word garbage.”

The second exercise I recommend for the tongue is using it for good—for God.  In the words of Peter Parker (aka Spiderman), “With great power comes great responsibility.”  We house power in our tongues.  Using that power for the encouragement and edification of others is God-glorifying and trains our hearts for selflessness.  “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29, NKJV).

Allow the Holy Spirit to add a measure of joy to someone’s life through your words.  Encourage a friend by complimenting their family or children, praise their parenting or homeschooling success, or pray together.  Edification can also be a word of encouragement in the Lord or a Bible verse that was helpful for you in a similar situation.

As a wife and mother, I seek to align my life with Proverbs 31.  “She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26, NKJV).  When we mix godly wisdom with edification and coat our words in love, God can accomplish much through us as mothers, wives, and friends.

Finally, the most important activity we are to do with our tongue is praise God.  “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25, NKJV).  Only through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross can I ever be considered “faultless.”  He is the most precious gift ever given or received!

How can I not give Him constant praise as a result?  “Praise the Lord!  Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 106:1, NKJV).

Although God doesn’t need our praise, His Word testifies that He wants to hear from His children.  “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV).  Praise and thanksgiving offered to Jesus will lift our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances and onto Him where they belong.

I’ve learned that praising God has a wonderful purpose.  Our faith is strengthened and purified when we praise Him in the dark moments of our lives.  “I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue” (Psalm 66:17, NKJV).  When I’m speechless before God, whether through the trials or the blessings of this life, praise should never cease to roll off my tongue for Him and the wonders of His works.

After all, Jesus’ actions were drenched in grace for me, and my life should be drenched in praise for Him.  Ultimately, my prayer is that my tongue will speak life-giving words from my Savior.  David said at the end of his life, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2, NKJV).  For if the Word of the Lord is always on our tongue, we won’t have to worry about “holding that thing down.”


Kerry Johnson lives in sunny Tampa Bay with her loud and very ticklish family. Patient hubby Trevor and their two bouncing boys, Cole and Chase, give the best hugs ever. She’s been published in Sanctified Together, Granola Bar Devotionals, and Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine, and recently completed her first novel. She has her Bachelor of Science in English Education and enjoyed 7 blessed years as a stay-at-home wife and mom. She’s passionate about her family, exercising, chocolate, reading and writing, and especially sharing the love of Jesus through her writing at



*Thanks, Kerry, for this powerful and timely message on guarding our tongues!

If this message blessed you be sure to leave Kerry an encouraging comment below. 🙂



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