Speech is our main source of communicating with one another. Sometimes we stumble in our simple everyday manner of speaking; because speech is so influential over almost every part of the rest of our lives. We can motivate someone with our speech, and with that same tongue we can completely ruin their day. Therefore the issue of speech should not be put off while one works on other areas of personal behavior. If you truly want to be more in the image of God, here is a valuable secret strategy: “START WITH YOUR TONGUE”!!!
In the Book of James, the author makes references specifically to the tongue because he sees the controlling of one’s tongue as a decisive matter that influences the entirety of one’s life.
James refers to the tongue as a “Restless Evil, Full of Deadly Poison.” It is hard to imagine a more condemning way to conclude the description of the uncontrolled tongue. This requires us to be continually watchful over our tongues, never to think we have successfully altered the nature of our speech.
Self-Discipline is to be practiced actively and diligently, in recognition of the power and force of our tongue. It takes discipline to be “quick to listen, slow to speak,” and slow to become angry. We should be careful in controlling what we say to stop verbally abusing those whom are made in God’s own image. If we praise God and then curse our neighbors, our praise to God is contradicted. The one we curse is made in the likeness of the Lord and Father; therefore to treat people with contempt is to treat God’s own greatness with contempt.
This principle has huge implications in our day and time, requiring just and honorable treatment to all we encounter each day. James is exposing the hypocrisy of speaking praise to God within the worshipping church, or in private prayer, while abusing people with ridicule, insults and attacks throughout the rest of the week. That’s right! We profess Christ all day long, and then in anger and bitterness of the tongue we show the negative sign of discontent in our soul.
To the person who speaks praise to God on Sunday and then abuses people during the week, James commands: “purify your speech” during the week. We as Christians are to worship continuously, not only with our minds, but with our speech also.
The concerns of controlling our tongues are also lost so many times in our own homes. The spouse that always is insulting to their mate; the one that always has to have the last word in the mildest of discussions is not going to have the last word when it really matters, on Judgment Day.
The tongue can and should be used for encouragement in the household, not for tearing down the others ideas or thoughts. How many of us were told when growing up to follow the “Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Well James tells us that the fruit of our souls are displayed by the words of our mouths. If our lives are pure, then only purity will come out of that mouth.
The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider when a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.