Taming the Tongue
“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” —James 3:8
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never…
Not so fast.
James didn’t mince words in the context surrounding this week’s verse. He described a variety of wild beasts man can tame, but not his own tongue. And he painted quite a picture of the comprehensive devastation man’s untamed tongue and unholy talk can bring.
This passage really isn’t about our tongues as much as it is about the condition of our hearts. For “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” (Matthew 15:18).
James offered a litmus test:
“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).
From time to time, we all say things we regret. But this week, consider the larger pattern and character your words reveal.
Is your conversation full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6)? Do your thoughts and words convey things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (See Philippians 4:8)?
Are the words you speak life-giving?
My prayer for this week:
Gracious Lord, I want my prayers this week to echo the psalmists: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips…May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”