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Taming The Terrible Tongue

Ready for more on James? This week we studied the first half of James chapter 3. It is easy to read these 12 verses, nod our heads and agree that we all need to tame our tongues; it’s difficult to do but we all could use some work in this area. Right? Sometimes we read a familiar passage like this and then proceed on our merry way.
But God’s word is intended to be like a light shining into our lives. Like a mirror held up to our hearts to show us what is really in there (and sometimes that is not a pretty sight, no it’s not…Ugh!) and what we can become (which is a sight of true beauty).

This focus of this passage is the tongue, our speech, what we say. We can’t brush past the first 2 verses just because we do not hold the title of teacher. James points out that those who teach (and we use our tongues to teach) will be judged more strictly as teaching brings more responsibility and more accountability. Don’t we all fit into this category at times? When we share Christ with someone? When we plant a spiritual seed in someone’s life?
James compares the tongue to bits in horses’ mouths, rudders on ships and forest fires started with one tiny spark. Such small things produce large effects. Our tongues make up a small portion of our body but can set the course of our lives on fire.  “It corrupts the whole person” and holds the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18.21) “All kinds of animals… can be tamed… but no man can tame the tongue.” What?! This sounds like a hopeless situation! If we can’t tame our tongues, we are doomed!

We use our tongues to praise God when we are in church, when the sun is shining, when things are hunky-dory.  We also use the same tongues to complain when the dishwasher breaks, gossip about someone who is not meeting our expectations, and cut others down when they get under our skin. “This should not be!”
It’s not enough to just try to clean up our speech, try not to put others down and not to swear. That won’t fix the problem. It’s what’s in the heart that comes out of the mouth (Matthew 12:34) and our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), so what are we to do? What’s in the heart starts the spark.
But don’t despair, my dear. God is here to rescue us from this deadly poison. With Him, all things are possible. The can’t-do becomes something we can do. We can tame the tongue, with the help of His power. We can be made new in the attitude of our minds (heart), how we think, what we value, where our choices are made. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

What we are connected to is what comes out of us. (John 15) Do we truly have the Living Water? (John 7:38) Or have we dug our own cisterns? (Isaiah 2:12-13) If we are connected to the Vine, we will bear good fruit that pleases God and this will be reflected in our speech. If we are connected to the world and self we will not bear fruit and the end result is not good. It may be time for fruit examination. Is there fruit in your life? Not fruit from years ago, fresh fruit. And is it good fruit?


  1. Thanks again for the great reminders of living in the light of our Lord. Our pastor has just been preaching on being connected to the vine and how that allows others to see Jesus in our lives. In this case in James what others hear from our mouth. I have been also reading about self-control in honoring and pleaseing God. Love and miss you, thanks for your faithfulness to our Lord. mom


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