“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Prov. 12:18)
Reckless words have the power to wound and cause a great deal of chaos and damage. In Part 1 of this series I talked about the power of the tongue according to James Chapter 3. I want to continue this series going deeper by sharing how damaging the words we speak can have on an entire nation as we can see happening every day.
James explained in chapters 1 and 2 p, two characteristics of the mature Christian: they are patient in trouble and practice the truth. James also shared a third characteristic of the mature believer: they have power over their tongue.
The Christians James wrote to were apparently having serious problems with their tongues. James warned them in Chapter 1 verse 2, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;” Just imagine what James would think today with so much negativity, incivility and rhetoric in the public discourse even among professing Christians. James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” A pretty powerful statement!
The power of speech is one of the greatest powers Christ has given us. With the tongue we can pray and praise God, preach the Word, encourage others and lead the lost to Christ. An awesome privilege! But with that same tongue we can tell lies that could ruin a person’s reputation, spew conspiracy theories or incite a riot. The ability to speak words gives us the capability to influence others for good or evil. Sadly, many take this ability for granted.
James gave us six pictures of the tongue: the bit, the rudder, fire, a poisonous animal, a fountain, and a fig tree that reveal the power of the tongue. I’ll talk more about them in upcoming parts of this series.
Civility does not mean the mere outward gentleness of speech cultivated for the occasion, but an inborn gentleness and desire to do the opponent good.Mahatma Ghandi
All around us we hear unbridled speech, conspiracy theories, and negative rhetoric in the news and on social media across the nation. It important as Christians we use our tongues for good and not evil. Ephesians 4:29 says, “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.”
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:45). What we allow to infiltrate our hearts will eventually pour out of our mouths good or evil. As Christians we must ask the Lord to set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over the door of our lips so that the fruit of our lips will be pleasing to Him (Ps. 141:3; Heb. 13:15).
Notes: All Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.