James 3:8 “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
What is ironic in the human tongue, mine naturally included, is that “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9). That’s like expecting to find poisonous water and fresh water coming out of the same fountain. It is contrary to the Spirit of God and the will of God. Sadly, no human can tame this wild tongue of ours so we must rely on God’s strength in trying to bridle it because it’s just about as hard as bridling a wild stallion.
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Words have meaning. They can bring great joy and admonishment but they can also leave deep wounds where scars cannot be seen or easily be healed. One small word can do so much good but it can also do so much bad. The power of the human tongue is that it can make a child believe they’ll never amount to anything or they’ll feel encouraged by their parents and feel like they can amount to anything. The rudder on a great ship is so tiny compared to the vessel but that same tiny rudder can cause the whole vessel to sink.
1 Peter 3:10 “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.”
Peter writes about the tongue as something we must do; keep it from evil and the “lips from speaking deceit.” It takes a cooperative work with the Spirit and Jesus strengthening us to keep this rebel member of the body. The tongue likes to move before the brain told it what to say. Peter puts it like this; if we love life and desire to see a good day then keep the tongue from evil (words) and lips from lying because “a lying tongue” is an abomination to God (Prov 6:17).
James 1:26 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”
Is there someone you know who seems to be religious but just can’t keep his tongue under control? Many people are quick to say that they’re spiritual or religious but God doesn’t want any more 'religious' people, He wants disciples after Jesus’ own heart. James has a word for them; if someone really thinks he’s a religious person but lies and deceives, then that person’s religion is totally worthless. It’s one thing to say you’re a Christian but sometimes our words betray us; they reveal what’s in our heart. Jesus clarifies this point by saying “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man” (Matt 15:18) because it is “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt 15:19). The Apostle John writes “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
One second of restraint can mean avoiding a thousand days of regret. What I mean is that spontaneous anger never ends well and the person who spoke the angry words nearly always ends up with regrets for what they said. The use of imagery is very vivid and compares to the deadliness of a quick thrusting of rash words with that of actual sword thrusts. This naturally injures the person on the receiving end however the tongue of the wise can often heal what the rash person has inflicted. The rash one is constantly cutting a path by mowing down everyone in their way on the way to what they want, however the wise person’s words can act as a balm that promotes inner healing.
James 3:5-6 “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. 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.”
It takes one tiny bit of gossip, one slip of someone’s confidential files, or some flash of anger in a moment to set a whole forest on fire. Smallness does not mean insignificant. Dynamite does come in small packages and nothing in the human body packs a punch like the human tongue. It can do so many great things but it can also do so many destructive things. Like the old Navy saying “loose lips sink ships” so a tongue can sink a marriage, a church, a relationship, a job, and just about anything else you can imagine. The tongue’s like a loose cannon on a wave-tossed ship. It can help but it can also quickly turn on you. Sometimes keeping our mouths closed can be the best possible solution since “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Prov 17:9).
Proverbs 15:4 “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
In this final Bible verse about taming the tongue, Solomon sees a gentle tongue as one that gives life but when used in a perverse or evil manner, it breaks the person’s spirit. At least it breaks their resistance to perversion. The tongue and the words used can be profanity-laced or grace-filled. The choice is purely up to the one which the tongue belongs too. It is a matter of personal choice so it is always best to remember that “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly” (Prov 15:2).
Romans 3:13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
This is a very strong indictment against those who use their tongues to deceive people. Maybe this makes you think about today's populous politicians or maybe even one of those prosperity preachers. They gather huge followings, sell out conferences and events, sell lots of books, and basically lead the blind by the blind. Their poison is worse venom than a snake because their audience unknowingly swallows their lies. Their tongue is used for profit which makes them a sort of prophet for profit.
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”
Unkind words corrupt the minds and manners of those who hear them. Scripture tells us, "With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;" (James 3:9) All lying, and corrupt communications, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil-speaking, and malice, grieve the Holy Spirit. Provoke not the holy, blessed Spirit of God to withdraw his presence and his gracious influences. In essence, this is a verse that would bring profound changes in our relationships if we would apply it conscientiously: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Matthew 12:36-37 "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
The Lord expects us to build strong characters, and permitting “careless words” or “little faults” to rule our days does not do it. We must learn to yield our tongues to the control of the Holy Spirit. “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
What was on the tongue of the psalmist should be on ours too as he wrote, “I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue” (Psalm 66:17) so “my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long” (Psalm 71:24). There is no greater use for the tongue “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9). Eventually, “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). They’ll either do it willingly, having already confessed it or they’ll confess it to their utter horror (Rev 20:12-15). I pray that they would rather do it willing, today, while it’s still called today (Heb 3:13) than after Christ returns when it will be far too late (Rev 21:8).