Taming the Tongue
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude (likeness) of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
We as Christians, must control our tongues because of its potential to condemn and its power to dominate. The tongue is very dangerous. It can rule a person and command their behavior. Have you ever been around someone that was lovely to look upon but, when they opened their mouth to speak, the poison that came out caused them to appear ugly even appalling? What does our speech look like to God? Are we portraying in words what is down in our hearts? If we don't control it, it can control everything about us. The tongue has tremendous power to control. It's like a bit that by pressing against the tongue controls the whole body of the horse. It's like a rudder that guided by the helmsman turns the entire great ship. The tongue is a small member, it boasts great things. The tongue has every reason to boast great things because it can accomplish such far reaching effects though it is so very small.
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth (James 3:2-4.)
Only an absolutely sinless person will never offend with his tongue and Jesus was the only one able to triumph in that area. A mature believer, if he walks in Christ's likeness as much as is humanly possible, will control his tongue. But we who are in this human flesh will all sin with our tongue for the tongue has tremendous power to control, condemn and abuse. James says, that the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. It can set a whole forest ablaze by only one small flame. Fire is so fascinating. You can take one small flame and set a whole city burning to the ground. Fire has an amazing capacity to mushroom. If you have a cup of water and you pour it out, it won't become a stream or a flood. It can't. But if you have a match, you can light a forest on fire or burn down an entire city because fire has a way of multiplying. The tongue is not like water, the tongue is a fire! Proverbs 15:28 says, "The mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things." The mouth of the wicked, it pours out fire or evil things. In Proverbs 16:27 it says, “An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.” Everything his fiery mouth touches is set on fire and the fire spreads. Proverbs 26:20 says, "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” The picture here is that the tale-bearer or the one who passes on gossip or a lie is like the wood that fuels the fire. Proverbs 26:21 says, "As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife." The word "kindle" means to ignite or set on fire. Gossip, slander and contention is a fire that devastates and destroys.
In Psalm 52:2, the tongue devises mischief like a sharp razor. That's an intriguing picture. The tongue is like a razor and a razor can cut deep. In the same Psalm verses 3 and 4 it says, "Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. God will judge those whose tongues do damage. Job 19:2, Job says, "How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?” The devastating power of a tongue to start a rumor, to spread a malignant lie so evil in its intent, is a wildfire that cannot be stopped and a razor that cuts so deeply.
Thoughtful Prayer: Lord, help us to control our tongue. May we be those who out of the good treasure of our heart bring forth good things, sweet fountains and sweet water. May it be that every time we open our mouth, we minister grace to the hearers. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4 :29 said, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." May others know us not only by what we do, but by what we say. May we be characterized by holy speech and thereby known to be the children of the living God. Thank You, Lord, for enabling us to speak of good and pure things because You have given us a new heart and with it a new tongue, that we may bless Your holy name.