Posted by: missionventureministries | November 18, 2013

Taming the tongue – James 1 and 3

James 3 vs 5-6

Throughout the book of James, he supplies examples of a life of active obedience. He teaches us principals that are vital in the life of a Christian.

In Chapter 1:19 he teaches us the following: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.

And in vs. 1:26 we learn that “those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James is instructing his people and us. In keeping a tight rein on our tongue, we should not allow everything that comes to our mind to come out of our mouth. We are to restrain ourselves; otherwise we will be paying the consequences for our actions. Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23)

A person, who has a slandering tongue, cannot have a truly humble, gracious heart. Therefore, as true Christians we should strive to watch what kind of words come out of our mouths.

In Chapter 3:5-10 we read: The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. . . The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. . . It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. . . With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Decent and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart. If we are to have an attitude in us which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), then we should not expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and insults from a true believer’s mouth. And there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:4)

If we want purity and Christ likeness to characterize our life, we need to start with our tongue, because if we do not discipline and purify our speech, we will not discipline or purify the rest of our life. Paul said: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

Self-discipline is to be practiced actively and diligently, in recognition of the constant danger. It takes discipline to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (1:19). And, the next verse says, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires, which means controlling what one says to stop verbally abusing people who are made in God’s own image.

We need to remember that the tongue makes us liable for judgment (James 3:9-12). In these verses James is stating the obvious that one spring does not pour forth two kinds of water; a plant of one kind does not produce fruit of another kind; a salt spring does not produce fresh water. The implication is that a true Christian will not make a practice of speech that dishonors the Savior; on the other hand, the language of the unbeliever is evidence that the person is not a Christian and therefore in danger of hell.

James is probably referring to Jesus’ teaching, in Matthew 12:33-37, where the image of a good tree bearing good fruit and a bad tree bearing bad fruit is applied specifically to speech as the fruit of one’s inner character. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Jesus made the divine judgment explicit: “Everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned” and the ones who praised Jesus saying “Lord, Lord” will be sent away as impostors who are not genuine Christians at all: “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:22-23)

James insists on purity of speech if one’s faith is genuine. He says to each one of us: Purify your speaking, otherwise you are an impostor and therefore under judgment.

To the person who speaks praise to God in the worship service and then abuses people verbally at home or at work, James says: this should not be! To the person who says, “Oh, I know I talk too much,” he tells: be quick to listen, slow to speak. To the person who boasts, “I always speak my mind, no matter who gets hurt,” the Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life is in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Of the person who says, “I know I gossip too much, but I just can’t help it,” James says, “Control your tongue.” Of the person who is in the habit of speaking with insults, ridicule or sarcasm, James demands, “Change your speech habits.” He expects discipline to be happening in the life of a Christian. Any Christian can ask for the grace needed, because every good and perfect gift is from above (1:17) and God gives them generously (1:5). There is, then, no justification for corrupt habits of speech in our life. We simply must repent and change our habits.

Some people say that they want to be “brutally honest,” however; they are usually much more brutal than honest – because in their hypocrisy they can not recognize the gross sin in their own lives.

Remember we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) therefore, think before you speak:

T- Is it true? What I am saying
H- Is it helpful?
I-  Is it inspiring?
N- Is it necessary?
K- Is it kind? What I am saying and the way I am speaking?

Because: The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom and their tongues speak what is  just. (Psalm 37:30)


  1. I bless the Lord for These words.

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