Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. James 3:5-6
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21
It’s hard to imagine how we would live without our tongues. We use them to speak, to feel, to taste, even to express emotions at times. I think of Zechariah in Luke 1 who lost his power of speech for several months. How hard that must have been!
Our tongues are instruments for tremendous good. With our tongue we praise the Lord and sing to His glory. The psalms are full of verses that allude to this privilege. With the same tongue, we can share our testimony and draw others to the Lord. The tongue is the instrument by which we teach our children and build lasting friendships through honest and open conversations. And it will be with our tongues one day that we will proclaim the name and glory of our Savior throughout the universe for Paul wrote in Philippians: ‘every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’
All of that said, in the course of my studying to present this series, I was shocked to discover that the word ‘tongue’ is used in the Bible one hundred and thirty times. What was even more shocking was that a great majority of those times, it is in the context of a negative or potentially damaging situation. I had to really look to find verses that used the word ‘tongue’ in a positive light!
Look at these examples:
Trouble and evil are under his tongue. Psalm 10:7
Keep your tongue from evil. Psalm 34:13
Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. Psalm 52:2
I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin. Psalm 39:1
Dear friends, the potential for good is unlimited: ‘A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.’ Proverbs 25:11
Gentle words can end arguments and resolve strife.
Kind words can lift a downcast spirit.
Prayerful words touch the heart of God.
Yet James warns us that ‘no man can tame the tongue.’(vs. 8)
What then do we do??
Control of our tongues cannot be achieved by an gift or talent we may have. It is not a matter of education or the level of our intelligence. James offers us no promise that if we meet a certain condition, God will swoop in and fix our tongue!
What James – and the other epistles teach us – is that God expects us to take responsibility for our tongues. His enabling grace is always there, ready to empower us but you and I have to make a FIRM decision that we want to clean up our manner of speaking.
WE have to decide that we want our words to reflect the Lord that we love.
WE have to ask the Holy Spirit to impart His grace and when we fail, to convict us QUICKLY!
It boils down to this: How much do you want to be like Jesus? How much do you want to delight His heart? How much do you want Him to look upon you and smile?
If we are able to discipline ourselves to curtail our eating in order to lose weight, then we can surely discipline ourselves to bring our speech under the control of the Holy Spirit.
A favorite morning prayer of mine is this one: Holy Spirit, please keep me on a very short leash today. Hold me close and if I even begin to think of something to say or do that does not reflect the Lord Jesus, yank my chain and do it quickly!
It may not be the most sophisticated prayer, but I promise you, it works.
He will do it if you ask Him.