There is someone dear to me, and I am tired of telling him to change a half-dozen things about himself. So today I said he could forget all that. (He was intrigued.) I told him to change just one thing-the way he talks. I made a plenary concession that if he merely consecrated his tongue to God-and just today-that would be enough for me.
It was a trick, of course. And I think he knew that, though he played along for a few minutes. "Just that?" he replied with a mischievous grin. I reaffirmed the challenge. Then I sprung the trap: "See, if you give God your tongue today, it will lead the rest of your body around" (James 3). "I can find a loophole," he said (which is a small, and relatively tame, example of the problem we need to work on).
I didn't remind him of all the places in Scripture where it says to get rid of worthless speech (Ephesians 5:4); he knew all that from past conversations. I didn't tell him (this particular morning) that it was only by the power of God that he could pull this off; he knows very well that I mean that. He is well aware from innumerable talks we have had that it is God in him that effects the transformation.
The way I know he knows is that many years ago, in New York City, just before I had to give a talk before a group of people, and I was scared, he is the one who said to me, "I have confidence that you will do well." I objected vociferously to his confidence with a litany of all my failures. To which he replied, "I don't mean confidence in you. That's crazy! I mean confidence in God."