JAMES 3:4-10 – 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. 5 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! 6 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. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
THEME OF THE DAY. TOO MANY, TOO FAST. Before we move into today’s nugget, I want to encourage each of us to consider developing a spiritual habit – read through the Gospels each month. Combining Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, there are eighty-nine chapters. A person may read three chapters a day (takes about fifteen minutes), and the entire Gospel accounts would be read in a month. And it would change our lives! We would become more familiar with and close to the Lord Jesus through “walking with Him” throughout His earthly journey.
As one reads the gospels, there is so much to observe about Jesus as well as to hear from Him. But what is insightful is to hear what people said of Him. One thing which struck me, even challenged me to model, is what people said of His speech – And all spoke well of Jesus and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22). People were amazed at His grace-filled speech. Why amazed? Because, like our world, their world was full of sinners and sinners are not characterized by grace-filled speech. They are more known for unwholesome, self-centered speech. And this begs the questions I ask of myself, and now us – “Would people we know immediately say of our speech what they said of our Lord?” “Are we a people consistently following the Lord by gracious words in our speech?” The Bible, particularly today’s scripture, says a lot about our tongue and what comes from it. Most of the exhortations are toward restraining the tongue and the evil associated with our speech. And when it comes to warnings and exhortations concerning the tongue, King Solomon’s proverbs are fertile places. Here are two . . .
First, strive to be a person of few words – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19). Be people who have to talk a lot in a conversation, must voice an opinion, or have the last word, and we are putting ourselves in a heightened position to sin. Too many words lead to a lot of sinful speech.
Next, strive to be a person of controlled words – “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20). King Solomon doesn’t mince words, nor is he reluctant to call it as it is. He is telling us that a person who is impulsive in their speech; allows the heat of the moment to unleash hurting and cutting words is worse than a fool! Ouch. There is no place that is more revealing of our need for constant grace than in the control of our tongue in tough relationship settings. Whether in our parenting, marriages, or on the job conflict, only God’s grace can put a lock on our tongue and prevent us from saying hasty things that become regretted things.
Yes, the tongue may be a force for good or bad. Let’s seek to be a people like Jesus – known for gracious speech by learning to have our words few and well-thought out before they come out.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to live in constant dependence upon Your grace to ‘tame’ my tongue.”
QUOTE: “It was said of Jesus ‘He spoke gracious words’ and that is to be said of His people too”