Sunday Morning Rewind: Taming the Wild Beast in Your Mouth.

zipper“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”  James 1:26

Bridle your tongue.  Have you ever tried to bridle (or we could say, bite your tongue) when someone really pushes your buttons?  When they say that one thing that really puts you over the edge?  It’s hard isn’t?  I dare say, almost impossible.  Actually, maybe it is impossible.  In chapter 3, James says as much: “…every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Aha! A loophole!  See, Scripture, itself, gives us a pass and an excuse for not holding our tongue when that huh-huh-huh had it coming! Ah, not so fast, cowboy.  This may give us a reason as to why we don’t hold our tongue, but it doesn’t give us an excuse.

Wait a minute, though.  No human being can tame the tongue.  That’s what it says.  So, if no human being can control the tongue, how are we held responsible when we don’t?

This is where spiritual maturity comes in.  It’s why James said not many should become teachers in verse 1 of chapter 3, because there must be spiritual maturity.

Look at it this way:
Unless we bridle our tongue, we are deceiving ourselves and our religion is worthless.  Now, James says no human CAN control the tongue?  The spiritually mature one understands this, but further understands that, though no HUMAN BEING can control the tongue, God can!  So, through submission to the Holy Spirit of God, our tongue comes under control and HE makes us into doers of the Word through our speech.  At that point, our speech becomes a good indicator of the Holy Spirit’s control over our lives.  If He is not in control (demonstrated by out of control speech), then our outward expressions of our belief system (“religion”) are worthless.  In other words, it isn’t real.

Here are a couple of things to consider as you fight the battle of taming the tongue:

 1.  Understand you can’t control your own tongue, so submit to the work of the Holy Spirit ( this, of course, assumes you really have a relationship with Him.  If not, start there!)
2.  Through His strength, take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ
3.  Quote James 1:19-20 in your mind before you say a word and then RESPOND (rather than reacting) with a goal of honoring Christ.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  James 1:19-20


The Power of Words

Words are powerful, aren’t they? I don’t know that we realize that often enough until we find ourselves at the receiving end of a few choice ones. Words have amazing potential to empower people to fly higher and accomplish more than they ever thought possible…or to make them crash and burn.

Culture Wars Ignited

In reference to our words and the tongue, James said, “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire.” It’s true, isn’t it? Look, we’ve been witness to that just in the past couple of weeks as a national firestorm was set ablaze by a single individual stating his convictions regarding same-sex marriage. The simple fact is that words matter. They affect us deeply and have the power to shape our culture.

The Pain of Words

There have been times in my own life when I not only wanted to sock someone right square in the pie-hole who said something particularly hurtful to me, but also the dude that came up with the whole “sticks and stones” thing. Seriously? Words hurt! They have the power to make or break families, churches and communities and to either create or destroy real, godly community. They unify and they divide.

Words and Witness

Unfortunately, too often we fail to realize that our words here on earth have an impact on the Kingdom of God. With our words, the glory of God is either magnified or tarnished by what we say and how we say it. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus talked about our witness in the world:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Alright, so I know this is talking about actions and not words, and it’s true, of course, that we must show our good works, but they also must be qualified by our words. Many people do “good works” digging wells, teaching people how to recycle, feeding the poor and caring for the homeless. The follower of Christ, however, may do many of the same things but in the name of Jesus Christ. Because He has shown us love, through His power, we become a blessing to other people. It’s one thing to do good works, but it’s empty if it’s not tied to the Good News that Christ has come to make all things new!

You may have read recently on Facebook or Twitter this quote by someone (it was spread around so rapidly that I never heard who actually said it): “Saying to preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words is like saying feed the hungry and when necessary, use food.” It is necessary that our actions bring glory to God and just as necessary that our words back them up (and visa versa!).

How do you use words? Are you flippant with them? Do you avoid the kind of conversations and words that tarnish the glory of God in your life and testimony? Do you destroy reputations by engaging in gossip and slander or by tearing someone else down verbally? Do you get ahead, not by hard work and ingenuity, but by lying your way to the top?

You and I have the ability to build up or tear down. Choose your words carefully…and like your mom said, “If you can’t say something nice, keep your trap shut.” Well, something like that. Solomon said it like this:

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28

Now, those are words to live by.

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