Hope for Taming the Tongue

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed almost 300 people, destroyed around 3.3 square miles of the city and left over 100,000 people homeless.

There is much speculation as to how the fire started.  The theory most held to for many years was that a cow belonging to Mrs. O’Leary, of 137 DeKoven Street, kicked over a lantern in their barn starting the fire.  Later it was claimed that gamblers started the fire in the barn.  Still others claimed a meteor might have caused the fire.*

However, no matter how the fire started, the fact is…it had a start.  That start was one very tiny spark.

lit candle in jar

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Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.  Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  James 3:5

James likens the damage the tongue can inflict to the damage kindled by a little fire!  That damage can grow to be devastating, as it did in Chicago.  The damage starts with one unkind word.  That first spark of fire.  And can grow to destructive force in a life.  Our words have great power.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue:  Proverbs 18:21a

Oh, how many times have I spoken something in haste or frustration and wished with all my being that I could take it back!  At those times I can still hear my mother’s instruction—

If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

Did your mom tell you the same?  And isn’t it so easy to tell our own children the same thing?  However, not so easy to do.

With some pretty strong language God, through James, gives much warning about the tongue and its power to destroy.

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.  James 3:6

Then in verse 8 we’re told—

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  James 3:8

Taming the tongue is an ongoing battle between our old sin nature and our new nature in Christ.

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.  James 3:9-10

Our tongue can be used for so much good—to share the gospel, to speak words of kindness, graciousness, and wisdom to a lost or hurting friend, coworker, neighbor, or stranger.

But our tongues are often also used for much harm—through gossip, slander, angry words, and lies.

The world tells us to “speak your mind.”  “Give them a piece of your mind.”  (I recommend holding on to as much as you can.  I’m finding that I need all of mine!)

But God says, “Be gracious.”

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.  Colossians 4:6

 

How can we win this battle with our tongue? 

Years ago I had a terrible time trying to tame my tongue.  But guess what?  I couldn’t.  I even tried to do it the “spiritual way.”  I memorized several scriptures that commanded me to control my tongue.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  James 1:19

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.  Colossians 4:6

Still, no lasting victory.  It was impossible!

What I had to learn was that I didn’t have the power in myself to obey those commands.

Truly “no man can tame” the tongue.

But God can!

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.  Mark 10:27

My efforts to control my tongue left me hopeless.  Until God. 

Until God showed me my need of Him to do in me His “impossible” work…the cleansing of my heart—

for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  (Matthew 12:34) 

Whatever is within our hearts is revealed by what comes out of our mouths.  What we are, what we’re made of, what’s inside, is what comes out.  This is the point James makes in verses 11 and 12 with the examples of the fountains and the fig tree and a vine.

God showed me through much prayer and seeking Him that my problem was not my tongue…but my heart.  It was a matter of Who and what filled my heart.  Self and resentment toward my husband had to go.  Only then could the Spirit and His fruit fill my heart and overflow through my mouth and life.

No man or woman can tame their tongue.  But God can…through His Spirit within us.

 

Through temperance, the fruit of the Spirit, we have the help we need to not just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.

Through the Spirit we also gain the wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep silent. 

If you belong to God…then be God’s.  Completely.  From the inside out.  From your heart to your tongue.

Remember, only God can tame your tongue.

Give Him control of your heart and life today. Surrender to Him everything…especially whatever you wish were different in your life.

Trust Him to fill you with His Spirit.  And your life with His perfect plan for you.  Oh, the wonder that will fill your soul!

Taming the tongue is an ongoing battle.  But there is hope!

Remember to STOP and pray whenever you are tempted to respond in kind to someone else’s unkind, rude, or hurtful words.

May God help us “offend not in word,” but rather be His instruments of encouragement, motivation, and edification today and always!  Through the power of His Spirit within. 

 

Drawing nigh to Him,

Teresa

*https://www.history.com/topics/great-chicago-fire*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Chicago_Fire


This post is part of our James Bible Study.

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.

Have others’ words been used to hurt or discourage or hinder you?  Have you struggled with controlling your tongue?  How did you get victory?


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