We’ve already been reminded that controlling the tongue is a true test of one’s spirituality! So how spiritual have you been in the last few weeks or the last few days? Our words reveal our heart, and sometimes our words reveal a heart that is not very pleasing to God. We have to recognize the destructive uses of the tongue and avoid sinning against God and others. The tongue, though it is cursed by sin, is not inherently evil. It can be used to glorify God and build people up, or it can be used to curse God and tear people apart.
Don’t Miss the Point of What James Wrote
In a very descriptive manner, James presents some very destructive consequences of not disciplining the tongue. James 3:6 says, “And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.”
Kent Hughes, in Disciplines of a Godly Man, made a very truthful statement that should get all of our attention: “The uncontrolled tongue has a direct pipeline to Hell! Fueled by Hell, it burns our lives with its filthy fires.” James 3:10 makes it clear: “From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” However, there is still hope for change.
The first step is solving a problem is to realize you have one. The next step is to apply the principle of 1 John 1:9 which says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So once I’ve repented and confessed my sin, what do I do next? What does this process of growth look like on a daily basis?
Principle #3: Replace the Destructive Tongue with a Disciplined Tongue
In order to change, a person has to put off sinful habits (destructive uses) and then put on principle oriented living–allowing the truth of God’s Word to control our thoughts and actions instead of our sin-cursed feelings and thinking. So the question is: How does a person change & grow in the use of their tongue?
Put On: The power of proclaiming the life-changing message of the Gospel
If we were more preoccupied with proclaiming the Gospel, we would have a lot less time to be critical and fuss about circumstances and people.
The responsibility and privilege of spreading the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ belongs to us. Paul made that clear in 2 Corinthians 5:20. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Do you know why some people are so critical? It’s because they look at life through their eyes instead of the eyes of Christ. They don’t think and live a Cross-centered life. The tongue should be used to proclaim the greatest story about the greatest Person! If we practiced this on a daily basis, we can learn to control the destructive fire of the tongue and will be less prone to sin with that tongue.
Put On: The power of worship
Because of God’s grace, we have the ability to ascribe to God proper worth-ship – in His character (Who He is) and His Works (what He’s done and will do). Here are a few verses to think about:
- Psalm 51:15 O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.
- Psalm 63:3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You.
- Hebrews 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
- James 3:10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
Remember this principle: Every response to temptation is an act of worship. This principle even applies to the use of our tongue and the temptation to gossip, slander, complain, be critical, or to cut down others. If we consistently praise and worship the Lord, we will not have to ask forgiveness for sinning with our tongue, because we’ve learned to discipline the fire! In part 4, we’ll take a final look at some Helpful Steps to a Disciplined Tongue.