“We need to think of our tongue as a messenger that runs errands for our heart. Our words reveal our character.” —Charles R. Swindoll
Be honest—do you talk too much? Do you find yourself saying, “I shouldn’t say anything...” and then spill it out? Do you promise to keep information shared in confidence, only to leak it a few days (or hours) later? Worse, do you speak against others behind their backs and say something different to their faces? If these habits sound like yours then you’re like the majority. Verbal restraint is rare. In fact, consistent verbal restraint is almost non-existent. No wonder the Bible has so much to say about getting our mouths under control!
Most of us see the reality of our “tongue problem” but we often treat the symptoms rather than the source. Jesus tells us the source of our problem in Matthew 15:18: “The words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you.”
In James 3:1-12 we find direct teaching on our use of language. In verse one, James began his treatment of the tongue with a warning to those who speak to others, specifically teachers. James said not many should aspire to the role of a teacher, for those who teach will be judged according to a higher standard.
After this he broadened the warning to include all people. Three principles about our tongues become clear in this passage.
- First, the tongue is small but powerful
- Second, the tongue is necessary but dangerous
- Third, the tongue is helpful but inconsistent
Having thought about the roots of our wickedness and the dangerous and helpful potential of our tongues, we can draw out two practical applications that we should never forget.
- First, you will never regret restraining your tongue
- Second, apologize for the times you have failed to restrain your tongue
Are there people you need to seek forgiveness from due to an out-of-control tongue?