When I was a new Christian, it was almost impossible for me to live at peace with anyone! Almost every time I opened my mouth, I said something ugly. I was constantly hurting the people I was close to. In fact, I spoke more harshly to them than to anyone else.
I criticized Gloria's driving so much that she nearly refused to drive while I was with her. I criticized my children so much that they began to avoid me. I didn't want to be so insensitive, but I couldn't help it. I had a well-developed habit of speaking harshly and didn't know how to change it.
Then I found Ephesians 5:4. It said, "[Let there be] no coarse, stupid, or flippant talk; these things are out of place; you should rather be thanking God" (New English Bible). When I read that, I realized I needed to replace the words I was used to saying with words of thanksgiving. That would solve my problem. After all, I couldn't speak harshly and thank God at the same time. I couldn't criticize those around me if I had a thankful attitude about them.
I immediately decided to put this principle to work in my life. Rushing into my son's room one day ready to lambaste him about something he had done, I recognized my old behavior pattern. I just stopped and said to myself, "The Word says this kind of behavior is out of place, so I am going to stop and thank God." I wasn't nearly as angry after I spent a few minutes praising and thanking the Lord.
If you've developed the habit of speaking harshly, start changing that habit today. When someone crosses you on the job, at school, or wherever, and you're tempted to tear into them with cruel words, stop! Then take a few moments to give thanks and praise to God. Once you begin thinking about how good God is, more often than not, those harsh, angry words will just slip away unspoken.
Instead of using your tongue to tear people down, train it to lift God's praises up. Then living at peace with others will come easily to you!