Captive Thoughts Tame the Tongue

March 7, 2024  - By Lara d'Entremont

Captive Thoughts Tame the Tongue - an article from Well-Watered Women

I grew up on a small farm in Canada. One time, a vet misdiagnosed one of my parents’ horses as having strangles, a highly contagious bacterial disease. It was only after a large vet bill that my parents took a closer inspection and saw the true issue: a brewing infection from a stick stuck under the horse’s leg. 

From a lack of closer inspection and unwarranted assumptions, we can sometimes approach an illness or even a knotted-up sin from the wrong angle. We try to treat the symptoms, but because the source of the problem has been misdiagnosed, we see no difference or improvement.

I’ve often taken this misstep when trying to tame my speech. I blame my rash or uncaring words on the challenges of raising small children. I tell my friend that an article or a book is false teaching before I’ve deeply considered the issue. When friends are suffering, I offer rushed solutions instead of keeping quiet while they share. I angrily discipline my oldest son for causing the milk to spill, when he is actually trying to stop it.

Focusing on the Wrong Problem 

To overcome my fumbling words and rash exclamations, I sometimes try to clamp my lips tighter, keep silent, and remind myself of every Bible verse related to the tongue. I bring remedies to my mouth while completely misdiagnosing my sin. My problem isn’t my words as much as the thoughts that motivate them.

Jesus told the crowds, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:43–45).

Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and that a good tree will produce nourishing fruit. Instead of striving to tame our tongues, we first need to tame the thoughts of our hearts.

Captive Thoughts

The apostle Paul wrote, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Though Paul wrote this in the context of combating the heretics of his day that led people astray, we should also seek to destroy the prideful thoughts that permeate our inner lives. Let us, with Paul, demolish arguments and every proud word that is raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 

God calls us to lift our thoughts to higher things: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).

When we assume the worst of our neighbor, are we dwelling on the truth? When we number off all the annoying characteristics of a friend, are we pondering what is honorable? When we focus on only the negative, are we choosing what is lovely? God calls us to be diligent in our thought life, to guard it with the praiseworthy things of Philippians 4:8, for “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matt. 15:18).

When we focus on what is untrue, dishonorable, and unjust about our neighbor, it will eventually leak through our mouths. However, when we seek help from the Spirit to lift our thoughts of others to purity, loveliness, and excellence, we can begin a path to restoration and healing.

Test Your Words and Thoughts

Oftentimes I speak first only to consider later, Was that truly helpful? Was that edifying? Though consideration after the fact offers an opportunity for repentance (which is important), we can never unsay our words. I’m so quick to speak that I only later realize my words likely caused harm.

If we desire to make our words bloom with goodness, truth, and beauty, we must use our tongues with more precision and care. Let’s test our words and not take them lightly. Are your words true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy? Do they build up or tear down? Do they honor or shame? Let us take captive every thought to the knowledge of God, so we will speak words that bring glory to Christ.

Captive Thoughts Tame the Tongue - an article from Well-Watered Women - quote

Meet the Author

Lara d’Entremont is a wife and mom to three from Nova Scotia, Canada. Lara is a writer and learner at heart. She’s always trying to find time to scribble down some words or read a book. Her desire in writing is to help women develop solid theology they can put into practice—in the mundane, the rugged terrain, and joyful moments. Find more of her writing at

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  1. Taliah Kendrick says:

    This was such an encouraging read.

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