Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

How to Zip Your Lip When It’s Out of Control


Rather than beating ourselves up and striving on our own to control our tongues, we need to get to the heart of the matter.

I’ve always had a mouth on me. Back in 8th grade Mae Jones and I talked all through math class. When the teacher moved Mae clear to the other side of the room, we girls just continued talking to each other MORE LOUDLY. The poor woman had no choice but to move us back together. However, when report card time came, I got an “unsatisfactory” in classroom behavior, and my parents let me have it.

My mouth still gets me into trouble.

When things go wrong, I complain. When I’m worried, I fret aloud. If I think I’m not getting enough help at home, I nag. Under stress, I snap at the kids or get contentious and start questioning every decision my poor husband makes.

I could use a refresher course in Zip Your Lip 101, so I looked to the book of Proverbs. On every page, verses about controlling my tongue jumped out at me.

I found the nutshell version of the refresher course I needed in Proverbs 10:31:

from the mouth of the righteous scripture

This simple verse summarizes everything. A wise person uses his words constructively to build others up. He knows when to talk, and when to be silent. James describes wisdom like this: “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)

Does Wisdom Come Out of Our Mouths?

On a good day, when life is smooth sailing, wise words come easy. But on days when I have to go to the store twice before 9:00 a.m., or I pass three accidents on the freeway, my efforts to control my tongue crumble. I get an attitude, and anyone who gets in my way might get a gentle tongue-lashing rather than the gentle fruit of wisdom.

Our Words Reflect our Hearts

Usually when my mouth speaks out of order, it’s a sign that my heart is out of order. Just like Matthew says, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (12:34) Days that are too full, paired with nights that are too short can get my heart off kilter. Life crises can challenge my calm. Before I know it my mouth is spewing out the overflow of a tired, stressed, or fearful heart.

We Need to Realign our Hearts with God

Rather than beating ourselves up and striving on our own to control our tongues, we need to get to the heart of the matter. A runaway mouth that spouts off irritation might be a sign that we need to slow down, get with God, and let Him renew our hearts.


The next time you find yourself in a cycle of spouting off words that you later regret, try these four steps.

The next time you find yourself in a cycle of spouting off words that you later regret, try these four steps:

1. Zip Your Lip

Proverbs 10:19 offers some common sense advice: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” (NLT) Sometimes we just need to apologize for unkind words and withdraw from a conversation or refrain from speaking until we cool down.

2. Get Away with God

Even locking ourselves in the bathroom to pray for a few minutes while the kids watch a video can change the landscape of our hearts and minds. Sometimes we may need to slow down our schedules a few days to spend more intentional time with God.

3. Ask Him to Cleanse Your Heart

When we confess our sinful attitudes and words to God, He is faithful to forgive and renew us.

4. Pray for Wisdom and Holy Spirit Power

We can ask God to fill our hearts with the wisdom we need and for the power to speak words that reflect Him.

When our words get out of whack, it’s probably a sign that we need to draw near to God and ask Him to realign our hearts with His Holy Spirit. As we seek Him, He’ll renew us and fill us with the gracious fruits of wisdom and with the self-control we need.

Now it’s your turn: Does your mouth ever get you into trouble? What’s your best tip for zipping your lip?

Linking up with Holly Barrett’s #TestimonyTuesdayKelly Balarie’s #RaRalinkup,  Holley Gerth’s Coffee for your Heart, Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday and Arabah Joy’s Grace and Truth.  Check out these communities for more encouragement.

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Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

47 thoughts on “How to Zip Your Lip When It’s Out of Control

  1. I have a big mouth as well. I have this need to be heard, as if only my opinion matters. God has taught me (eh, still teaching me) about when to bite my tongue and when to speak in a gracious manner. Proverbs is full of verses about the tongue; we have the power to build up or tear down. But I’m learning to encourage others through the #RaRaLinkUp :-). I’m very blessed to be your neighbor this week!

  2. Ohhhh.
    I continually need to be reminded — and God is using YOU today — that I don’t have to say everything I think, I don’t have to share my opinion on every topic OR at every opportunity.
    Thank you for bringing Scripture to my heart’s need.

  3. I’m sort of the opposite; I say very little, and will rarely speak my mind. Part of it’s nature, but part is training, because I once worked in a field in which it was rather important to be non-memorable.

    The goal was that if someone got on an elevator in which you were the sole other passenger, they would not remember that you were there at all a couple of minutes after debarking, and would not be able to describe you in any way.

    It’s more than words; it’s care with appearance, it’s posture, and it’s attitude. They are all part of a package.

  4. Betsy, when I think my mouth may get me in trouble, I pray >>> “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3, NIV1984) The NLT says, “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.” When I think of Him locking my lips, I tend to be more mindful of my words. If I don’t remember these Scriptures, I often regret what spills out of these lips. Thank you for the reminder this morning!

  5. Betsy, like Andrew I am a bit on the opposite end of the spectrum but there have certainly been times when I’ve wished I kept my mouth shut. It usually happens with those closest to me (like my husband! 😉 ) Your post also reminded me of the verse in Matthew which says out of the wellspring of the heart the mouth speaks. My best tip is to ask ourselves whether what we’re about to say reflects Christ. God, help me be mindful of what I’m soaking in today. Also blessed by your words, friend! xoxo

    • Abby, you make a great point about thinking first. I’ve gotten into the habit of asking these questions before I speak (especially when there is controversy) –

      1) Will it change anything, or am I just venting?
      2) Does it contribute to a positive atmosphere, or am I spoiling for a fight?
      3) Is it kind, or am I seeking to inflict pain in return for pain that I perceive was visited on me?
      4) If I say nothing, will this situation pass and be forgotten by all…including me?

      Usually I say nothing; and I find that most people need listeners more than they want to listen. Everyone wins.

      • Wow, Andres, these are GREAT questions. I think #1 is key for me. Really need to ask that. I think it drives my husband crazy when I just vent. really not helpful to a positive atmosphere.

    • Yes, I’m Really tring to be mindful of my words this week. That Matthew verse is a great one. I know what you mean about those closest to us!

  6. Um…yes, my mouth has gotten me in trouble. Thankfully we usually unzip around the people that are the most forgiving, right? 😉 I love your point that when we start to run our mouths, we need to still our bodies – to slow down and seek God. He has the most beautiful way of realigning everything – when we let Him! Always blessed by your encouragement, Betsy!

  7. Betsy, I’ve spent my life trying to tame my tongue it seems. “When our mouths speak out of order, it’s a sign our hearts are out of order.” That will stick with me and I pray that in my lifetime, my speech more and more reflects Christ. Oh, good stuff!

  8. Betsy, we have more in common than I even realized! Everything you confessed fits me to a tee. Such wonderful words of wisdom–much needed words for this quick-to-spout-off woman. Hugs, sweet friend!

  9. Zip Your Lip 101.

    Now THERE’S a 31 Days series if I ever heard of one!

    Such good stuff, Betsy. So wise …

  10. Well done Betsy Ken from Austalia

  11. This is SO good…I love what you said here: “When our words get out of whack, it’s probably a sign that we need to draw near to God and ask Him to realign our hearts with His Holy Spirit. ” I know that is the case for me, that I need to draw near to God when my words show my heart is straying. Thanks for sharing today!

    • Thank you, Angela. I think we look at controlling our tongues as a self control issue, and it is, but pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps doesn’t work. I need a heart makeover instead!

  12. I love this! I’m learning to walk away, take deep breaths and pray for help when my lip gets out of control. Wish I could always catch it when it starts, but at least I can try to zip it as quickly as I can 🙂 And then go back and apologize for my words.

  13. I really need to think first…how will this affect this person? Will I look or sound stupid if I say this? What’s the best answer? Should I even say something? Do I even need to speak? Is the silence best left to continue to be silence? Must I fill it? Why must I fill it? Is what I have to say really that important? I told someone recently that I tend to verbally vomit all over people. He laughed. I didn’t. It’s true. And I write the same way! So, with that said, I think I’ve said–or written–enough. Great post and for me-much needed!

  14. I’m learning that every silent moment doesn’t need to be filled. I keep telling my boys “What you speak is what you get” – and half the time I’m preaching to myself, reminding me to watch what I speak. You list such good points, Betsy! Thanks for the encouragement!

  15. Great post, Betsy — I relate to every single thing you said here.

  16. Thank you, Betsy, for being you. I can’t imagine anything but kindness coming from your lips, but the honesty of this post is beautiful! Thanks for being a part of #livefreeThursday.

  17. Betsy,
    Great words and advice to live by here! It’s only taken me 50 + years, but I am learning that truly less is more when I speak. Not every thought in my head needs a voice…God give me wisdom to share those thoughts (namely His word) which are worth sharing.

  18. So true. Am nodding my head in agreement with each one of these. And I snap too, Betsy. It’s getting better, though, as I grow in Him. #goJesus

  19. Thanks for the great reminders of how to get back on track. I know when I am saying things I regret that I haven’t been in the word like I should. Blessings.

  20. My problem is not so much my tongue as it is my attitude! I expect people to READ my MIND and get with the PROGRAM!! So my whole countenance tips them off that I’m mad. But I’m working on it. After 29 years, I’m STILL working on it but getting better lol!
    Always love your wise counsel, Betsy. Hope you haven’t eaten any pumpkin muffins with coffee grounds in them lately. :0

    • I think you’re right, Ruthie. It’s the attitude! That’s what affects my tongue more than anything. And boy can I identify with expecting people to read my mind and get with the program. Let’s keep working at it! (And I’ve been saved from coffee ground pumpkin muffins, glory be!)

  21. Hi Betsy! Is this funny or what?? We both wrote on the same thing! I responded to your comment saying that the steps I mentioned were already written on your heart, and it looks like I was half-right. You have so much more! Bless your heart, you have the way to peace. I always learn a lot from you.
    Sunday blessings,

  22. Hi Betsy, reminds me of “Set a guard to my lips” found in Psalms. I make this as a prayer.
    Thank you friend.
    God Bless

  23. I love the way you’ve pointed us toward the gospel and toward God’s grace for help with controlling our tongues. We’re hopeless when we resort to our own strength; how thankful I am that He grants His strength so lavishly when we ask! Thank you for linking with us at Grace & Truth.

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