People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them, but no one can tame the tongue. It is wild and evil and full of deadly poison. We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself. Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen. Do good and bad water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree make olives, or can a grapevine make figs? No! And a well full of salty water cannot give good water.
Are there those among you who are truly wise and understanding? Then they should show it by living right and doing good things with a gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you are selfish and have bitter jealousy in your hearts, do not brag. Your bragging is a lie that hides the truth. That kind of “wisdom” does not come from God but from the world. It is not spiritual; it is from the devil. Where jealousy and selfishness are, there will be confusion and every kind of evil. But the wisdom that comes from God is first of all pure, then peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help those who are troubled and to do good for others. It is always fair and honest. People who work for peace in a peaceful way plant a good crop of right-living. Â Â Â Â James 3:7-18 (NCV, my emphasis)
I like Facebook. It is a wonderful way for me to keep up with my children and their families, even those who live right here in the same town. I can see those pictures of the first day of school minutes after they are taken. And those who are far away, even in other countries, I can reach out and connect with them too. It is a 21st century way of communicating. It is another way in which my tongue can spread blessings or â€“ not.
This passage from James is often quoted when teaching about the need for someone else to learn to â€œhold their tongueâ€. Well, today, I am going to look at how I need to listen to what God has to say about my tongue through the apostle James. In his relatively short letter, James spends quite a bit of ink in writing about controlling my tongue. Makes me think that he has learned a few lessons himself the hard way! So I want to soak up his wisdom.
No one can control their own tongue. This first point must be understood before anything else makes sense. There is no duct tape made that can hold back my human desire to shoot off my mouth! I must have the control of the Spirit of God Himself. I know this is true because I have asked God for help and He has faithfully put the strong hand of His Spirit over my mouth and kept me silent when I really wanted to let go! â€œHumble yourself, Jody, under my mighty hand and I will lift you upâ€ (1 Peter 5:6).
When we speak against someone, we are speaking about God. When I call someone a â€œmoronâ€ (recent ‘Share’ I saw going around on Facebook about the President!) or imply that they are less than â€“ I am talking about one of God’s children and I do not like it when someone says something negative about my child so I bet God likes it even less than I do. Whether Muslim, Hindu, atheist, brown, white, yellow or any other category, we are all God’s children whether we acknowledge Him or not. This gives me a new set of lenses to look at everyone. Whoever they are, I can see their Father standing behind them, listening to what I say about them.
Wise words from God always reflect the character of God. If I speak as if I am speaking with wisdom that comes from God then my words will be fair and honest. They will reflect facts that have been tested and proven not just repeated rhetoric from an unknown or biased source. The words will be gentle and do good, not tear down and slander. Spending my time and energy encouraging and building up those who reflect God well is much better use of my life as a Kingdom builder.
I readily agree and know that what James says is right and true. It is when I do not see correction or change for the better that my tongue becomes sharper and less Godly. I wrestle the reins of control away from my LORD and tell Him that â€œYour way is obviously not working! Here let me show you how to correct this situation or this idiot who isn’t listening to You!â€ I am the one not listening! I have read the last chapter in God’s Book â€“ I know who wins. I don’t need to prove anything. I only need to be the ambassador that He desires me to be and speak His words in His way and at His time. That will move mountains.
Breathe on Me by Rueben Morgan, sung by Hillsong Worship Team