So I recently read the book of James from start to finish for the first time in a while and honestly, I started to feel a little tongue-tied. Who knew so many lessons could be packed into five simple chapters?
From James, we get verses like:
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (1:22 NLT)
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (2:17 NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (4:7 NLT)
But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned. (5:12 NLT)
As powerful as these words are, nothing is more convicting than James teaching on the tongue in Chapter 3. James starts this lesson with this statement:
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. (3:1 NLT)
At first you may think, “Who does James think he is telling me I couldn’t make the cut as a spiritual teacher or leader?” But we know the second part of the statement is true. Don’t you hold pastors and other Bible teachers to the highest of standards? Well, God’s standard is even higher, and although He can elevate anyone He wants, He expects a lot in return (and rightfully so).
…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. Luke 12:48 NLT
Let’s look at a few more verses:
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 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. James 3:2-6 ESV
Yikes! I don’t know about you, but I never want to speak aloud again! It really takes that saying mother always said: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” to a whole new level.
Control of the tongue is something that we must purposefully fight for as verse 8 tells us, “… no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” And none of us want to be “that Christian” described by James:
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (verse 9 ESV)
So how can we win against ourselves? By allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way and produce in us a different temperament. James tells us wisdom is required, and it comes from God.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 ESV
Jesus explained it this way:
So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7: 17-20 ESV
And Paul would chip in this:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
So this week, listen to what is coming out of your mouth. Hopefully, it reflects the person of Jesus. If not, ask for both forgiveness and wisdom in controlling your tongue! I will be praying for you and me!
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.