Taming the Tongue

James 3:6-8
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

It is no secret that it is easy to sin. And as James points out, the words we speak are often one of the most prevalent sins we commit day in and day out. But what James also states is that the root of the action of our tongue can be found in the wickedness of our hearts.

Think of all the potential transgressions we can commit with our tongues: gossip, deceit, exaggeration, discourtesy, impurity, harshness, impatience, and many, many others. But before we speak such sin, the sin has already received approval from the heart to go forth.

The word James uses for hell in v. 6, gehenna, was a fiery garbage dump in the days of his Jerusalem—a very fitting metaphor. The evil that flows out of such a vile place is the evil that controls our hearts and thus the words we choose to express.

I posted an observation the other day about how much hatred there is now on all forms of social media. Polite discourse is no longer an attribute worthy of pursuit; instead we choose the most vile and aggressive words to get our points across with little or no care about who else may read them along the way. In an all-out assault to prove ourselves right, we forego simple, common courtesy.

The meekness of Christ, an attribute we all should be seeking, is our only hope of taming the tongue. We must empty our hearts from worldly control and place God’s Word first and foremost in our hearts. But not just allow it a place in our hearts, but consume it – meditate on His Word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:15-16; Philippians 4:8) and then we will be able to discern what is right and proper.

We know that where our heart is, our treasure will be (Matthew 6:21), but it should also be recognized that where our heart resides, our words will spring from that local well. The question is, is that well poisonous or one that refreshes?

See blessedness before you see sin. See others as Christ sees them. It might require a focused and concerted effort to do this, but once it becomes a habit, you will be amazed at the amount of grace you can extol through your words as well as your actions.