“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.” (James 3:8-9 NKJV)
James dealt with a truth that people have known through the ages: what we say gets us into trouble – LOTS of trouble. In his description of the problems the tongue causes, he compared the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth, or the rudder of a ship. It’s a small thing that directs the whole body. Just like the bit in a horse’s mouth, or a ship’s rudder, are controlled by outside forces, though, so our tongue doesn’t act without orders from our brains. Let’s face it, when James talked about the need to control our tongue, he recognized that we have the power over our tongue – over the words we say. Instead of saying that directly, though, he continued the metaphor of a wild, restless evil that caused us to bless God on one side of the mouth, and curse people who’ve been made in the image of God out of the other side of our mouth. His logical conclusion is that this is wrong.
I will sometimes say something negative about another person, and because I know I shouldn’t have said it I’ll ask myself, or if someone else heard it, them, “Did I say that?” Jesus used a similar example when someone was worried about eating kosher. He noted that what defiled a person wasn’t what went in through the mouth, but what came out of the mouth, referencing of course, the things they said. One of the biggest changes in my life after accepting Christ is that I began to speak more grace about others, instead of insulting or cursing them. I’m still not perfect, of course, but God keeps working on me. Since our tongue blurts out what our minds are thinking, perhaps the best way to tame our tongue is to focus our thoughts on good things – whatever is pure and honorable. If we think about those things that honor God, our words will be more likely to honor God as well.
Lord, the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You. May I bring Your blessings to others and lift them to Your presence.