James – Taming Your Tongue
We talk a lot, some more than others. Men speak about 7,000 words per day and women speak upwards of 20,000 words per day. All the words we speak give us a multitude of opportunities to bless or curse people, to praise or dishonor God and those around us, to shine God’s light or stay in the darkness. Our tongues have power and we need to learn to control them.
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
-James 3:1 (NIV), emphasis added
This hits home for me, because one day we will all stand before God and when we do, those of us who taught God’s Word, myself included, we will be judged more harshly than anyone else. For those of you reading that write faith based blogs, please be aware this pertains to you as well. You are teaching those reading the Word of God and need to know that you will be judged more strictly.
I try to teach what God’s Word says not what I want it to say. I teach out of love and grace and compassion, but I don’t want to change what the Word of God says just because it might step on some toes. And this should be the same of all who teach (or write about) God’s Word.
With that being said, I want you to be careful who you listen to, to what blogs you read. There are some great speakers and writers out there, but they don’t teach the truth of God’s Word. Just because someone sounds good doesn’t mean they are right. I want you guys to trust the Bible more than the person on stage or the write of that blog. If I say one thing and the bible says something different, the bible is right and I am wrong. End of story! Trust your bible, but in order to trust your bible you need to be reading you bible, not just blindingly trusting what I tell you.
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
-James 3:2 (NIV), emphasis added
We all stumble, we all mess up, and we all need to watch our own mouths! All of us say things we shouldn’t say and talk about people instead of with them. We all need to watch our own mouths.
I think many of us have an issue where we listen more closely to what other people say instead of watching our own words. We take what others have said and spit it back at them, “Well you said this and you’re the one who told me that.” I do it.
I am married and as the woman of the relationship, I am always right. With that being said when my husband and I have one of our rare fights, I tend to bring up every wrong thing he has said and done since the last fight and even stuff from before that. In the heat of the moment, I focus more on his words than I do my own. When it’s over I feel awful about what I’ve said. I want to take it all back, but all I can do is apologize.
We all stumble. You need to watch your mouth not anyone else’s and you need to use your mouth to remind you every day that you need the grace of God just like everyone else. And you should pass that grace that God gave to you on to other people. If we are claiming to follow Christ and we are holding what someone said against them, then you are guilty of hypocrisy. God has forgiven you of your sins and then things you’ve said, now forgive others and stop holding on to it.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
-James 3:3-8 (NIV), emphasis added
When I was about 6 or 7 years old we rented a cabin in the woods. My dad had some hot coals he set at the edge of the woods. He put them out by dousing them in a ton of water. A little while later my younger sister, who was about 3, was standing at the glass door. She kept saying, “Pretty, butterfly, pretty.” When someone finally went to go see what she was going on about, the fire that had stemmed from one coal was blazing through the forest, towards our cars.
Just like that small call burnt down the forest, and a Honda, our tongues have the power to destroy.
The tongue has the power of life and death
-Proverbs 18:21 (NIV), emphasis added
We can unleash hell on others just by using our tongues. We cut deep by bringing up past mistakes and sins and speak harshly to them. It can also be used to suck the joy out of life.
I’ve seen parents do this to kids over sports. The kid will come to the parent excited, “Did you see me get three goals?” and then the parent comes back with a remark that tears through the child’s joy, “Well you would have gotten more if you had done what I told you.”
The worst is when one of us gets riled up about our sports team during the Super Bowl or during a rival game. We get so worked up that we end up saying something we regret later.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
-James 3:9-12 (NIV), emphasis added
We attend church week after week and praise God, some of us raise our hands in worship. Then we go out the doors and we curse those around us. That is hypocrisy.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
-1 John 4:20 (NIV), emphasis added
“I don’t hate them I just talk about them behind their backs, I don’t hate them I just condemn and criticize them for things they’ve done.” That’s hateful. James is saying if our faith is truly working, we need to be using our tongues, our words to bless both God and people. If you say you praise God and but then turn around a curse people then you are showing you are not a Christ follower.
My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
-James 3:12 (NIV)
If your words don’t bless God and people then it shows that your heart is not with God. You can’t praise God one minute and tear people down the next and expect the world to accept Christ. Who would want to be a Christian when other Christians are just tearing people down? Your words have a source and its not your mouth, it’s your heart.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
-Luke 6:45 (NIV), emphasis added
Is your mouth saying you are dependent upon Jesus or is it saying you are in desperate need of Jesus? Click To Tweet Our words reflect the true condition of our hearts. Your mouth is telling on you. Is your mouth saying you are dependent upon Jesus or is it saying you are in desperate need of Jesus? What is your mouth saying about you heart?