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Taming the Tongue


Nothing is more dangerous than the tongue. Nothing causes more grief, heartache, or loss. Nothing ruins relationships like the tongue. Nothing destroys the harmony of a church more than the tongue. Yet nothing seems less subject to control than the tongue. Just take a little time to read James chapter three. Notice some of the phrases he uses to describe the tongue: “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity”, “it defiles the whole body”, “It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”, and “out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing”. Wow! And he is writing to CHRISTIANS!

In my reading today I ran across a few more scriptures that are related to this point. In Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, the Preacher there is discussing worship to God and taking vows. In this context he uses the words “mouth”, “utter”, “words”, and “voice” several times. He connects these words to the words “hasty”, “rash”, “many”, “fool” and “sin”. He wants us to consider the folly of making statements before God and then going back on our word. In a modern sense it would be much like someone who makes a vow of marriage then sometime later decides to break that vow. Most people do not consider this to be a big deal. But it is to God – as are any other things we say before him. The words that we pray or sing come to mind in this context. Do you truly mean those things as they cross your lips or are you just uttering so many words?

Another related passage that came up in the reading was from Matthew chapter fifteen. When questioned about handwashing (which was not a law) Jesus responded with this statement, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matt. 15:11) A few verses later he stated, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Verses 18-20). Earlier in the twelfth chapter Jesus had this to say: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Powerful stuff.

Now consider what that means: what you say MATTERS. That is what James was communicating in his letter, what Solomon was communicating in his writings, and what Jesus was communicating on several occasions. The word “say” really just means communicate, so, WHAT YOU COMMUNICATE MATTERS. What you speak matters, what you e-mail matters, what you text matters, what you message matters, what you Instagram matters, what you Facebook matters… Uh oh! Think about what you are putting out there, folks. However you are communicating, IT MATTERS.


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