Monday, August 23, 2010

Taming the Tongue

We all have moments where we say something we later regret or use language we should not use.  We all have times where we have a so-called "slip of the tongue."  Some of us, though, seem to "slip" more than others.  Some of us make a habit of saying things a Christian should not say and some routinely use foul language.  Today I want to talk about taming the tongue.  It is what the Bible teaches us to do:
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.  James 1:26 NKJV
and again:
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little.  Proverbs 10:20 NKJV
That is a strong statement.  But it is true.  Are you useful to God if you do not control your tongue?  I dare say with the authority of the Word of God, that you are not.  Think about it, people will judge the kind of person you are by your language and the kinds of things you talk about.  If you use foul language, if your boast about the sin your commit, if you boast about the things you are good at, if you talk more about sports or politics or news, or if you show anger or bitterness, you will be perceived as such.  And shouldn't they?  Is not the tongue used to express what you are feeling?  If you never express your love for God or your appreciation for the sacrifice of Jesus, what is that saying about you?  Can you truly say you love God if you never talk about that love?  If God is truly the most important thing in your life, should it not that be what you speak about the most?  And that is where you are useful or useless regarding how well you control your tongue.  The unsaved are never going to believe that you truly love God or that God has power in your life if you never express it.  They are never going to believe that God has changed you if your speech is no different than theirs.  The tongue is what you use to declare who you are and what it is important to you.  

Let's look more on what James has said about the tongue:
Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  James 3:5-8 NKJV
The tongue is powerful.  We need to keep that in mind.  We can use it to encourage others or use it to tear them down.  We can use it to start wars or bring peace.  Even the best of us has moments where we say things we later regret, which shows just how hard it is to tame.  As we just read "But no man can tame the tongue."  That makes it all the more important that we are vigilant with what we say to one another and what we say to those who do not know the Lord.  Our words can have powerful effects on those around us.  We need to always keep that in mind.

Let's continue in James:
With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.  James 3:9-12 NKJV
We use the very same tongue to sing praise to God on Sunday that we use to gossip, curse, insult, and hurt others the rest of the week.  The same mouth that tells people we love God is used to tell others what people we hate.  God shows us how wrong that is in that those others we hate are made in the likeness of God.  Remember that next time you want to hate someone.  We can not say we love God is we say we hate anyone else.  It is addressed more directly here:
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.  1 John 4:20-21 NKJV
What this verse means is that man is created in the image of God.  Sure, many do not behave like they were created in the image of God, but that is how they were created.  And "created" is the key word.  We are all individually created by God and in His likeness and we must love each other on that basis alone.  How someone behaves is between that person and God. 

Here are a few more verses involving how we wrongfully use our tongue:

Gossip:  "And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not." 1 Timothy 5:13 NKJV

Crude Talk and Jokes:  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  Ephesians 5:4 NKJV 

Anger and Fighting: A fool's lips enter into contention, And his mouth calls for blows.  Proverbs 18:6

Foul Language, wrath, malice, blasphemy: But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Colossians 3:8 NKJV

Lying: Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.  Proverbs 12:22 NKJV

Continuing back in James:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  James 3:13-16 NKJV
Here we see the source of those foul things that come forth from our mouths.  It is not of God. We see here that God's wisdom produces good conduct and works done in meekness.  It also tells us that we are not to boast of the bitterness, envy, and self-seeking that is in our hearts.  Do not lie and claim any of those things are of God because they are not, they are from below, they are sensual and demonic, they are of Satan and our flesh.  That is the source of your foul language, that is the source of your coarse jesting, that is the source of lying, that is the source of hatred of your brother, that is the source of every bad thing that comes from your mouth.  We need to be vigilant to keep these things from our hearts. 
Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, or give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:25-27 NKJV 
Give no place to the devil.  Yes, it does take a good amount of vigilance, but the Bible teaches how to accomplish this by telling us to pray without ceasing and to take each though captive.  The fact is the more focused we are on God, the less focused we will be on the things of the world.  The more we are in His Word, the more we will fill our hearts and minds with the things of God.  As I shared a few days ago, the things we allow into our minds will find their way into our hearts. 

Finally, we need to address how we should speak.  The Bible answers tell us:
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.  Colossians 4:6 NKJV
We are to share with others the grace God has shown to us and we are to show how that grace affected us by being graceful to others.  There is no place in the heart of a man or woman of God for anger, bitterness, envy, and the like.  The man or woman of God has a new heart created God and we need to allow it to be filled with the things of God.  I will end with the rest of James 3.  Keep that in mind in how you speak with people today.  Ask yourself if you are sharing the empty "wisdom" of Satan or the Boundless Wisdom of God.  Have you brought your tongue under the subjection of Christ?   
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18 NKJV

1 comment:

  1. I am constantly reminding myself about these verses. Thanks for posting.