“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. 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?” (James 3:3-11)
One Saturday morning I was waiting in a long line to put gas in my car. Everyone was queueing up nicely, respectfully waiting their turn. When it was finally my turn, a man cut me off and zipped in right in front of me. I rolled down the window, stuck my head out, and yelled, “Are you a complete jackass or only when you drive?!” Then on the way home, what did I do? I started singing worship songs – not with a repentant heart for having just hollered insults at someone, but as if nothing at all had happened.
Through our speech we will one minute bless God, the next heap abuse on someone. James says THIS OUGHT NOT TO BE! We have a saying: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. That’s a lie. What people say does hurt.
Having control over something as potent as our tongue allows us to speak life into others, edify, comfort, affirm. That’s the good news. The bad news is that James goes on to say that not one of us can tame our own tongue.
The rest of the good news? Jesus’ own words, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) Through Him we can call on the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom to THINK before we speak, along with the discipline and self-control to both restrain our tongue in silence and control it in gracious speech. Whether it’s your kids, spouse, boss, co-workers, or the stranger serving you from behind the counter, who do you need to build up with your words today? Pray that the Holy Spirit would use your words to influence their life in a positive way.
“Lord Jesus, keep before me how important it is to keep a check on my tongue. I pray that my conversation this day will be pleasing in Your sight, Lord.”
—Submitted by Audrey Jose