Taming The Tongue

James 3:8-12 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

One of the first things we have to learn as Christians is how to bridle our tongues. This is especially true when we are dealing with an enemy: someone who persecutes us, angers us, annoys us, makes trouble for us. No matter how much someone irritates us or how much trouble they make for us; no matter how much they have wronged us, no matter what they have done, we who are Christians are not to let our tongues run away with us. We are to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.

The word curse does not mean merely using a bad word. It means to speak evil of, about, and to someone, and to wish bad upon the them. We as Christians are never to curse another person. First, as we just read, we will bring God's wrath down upon ourselves. Second, others are created in God's own image just as we were. To curse God's creation, His crowning achievement made in His very own image, is like cursing God himself. How would you feel, if I look at a picture of you, and curse it?

We cannot claim to be Christian and curse people with the same mouth we use to praise the Lord. What we speak with our mouth shows where our heart truly is. The Bible says:

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. (Matt. 15:18)

Again in Luke 6::43-45, we are told:

For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

What we speak with our mouths shows where our heart is. We are either in submission to the Holy Spirit of God, or we are in bondage to our own fleshly emotions and desires. We absolutely have to learn to bring our tongue into submission.

It's not enought to just refrain from speaking evil of someone, however. As a matter of fact, we are instructed in Romans 12:14 that not only should we not curse our enemies, we should BLESS them instead! That's right! We are to bless them: Speak good of them, to them, and about them, and wish good upon them.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Romans 12:17 says we are not to repay evil with more evil. But actually, to bless our enemies requires more than merely passively speaking well of them, or refraining from gossiping about them. It requires actively seeking to do well for them! Verses12:20-21 of Romans tells us:

Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

By not retaliating in a like manner, by refraining ourselves from repaying evil for more evil, we do two things. First, and most important, we honor God, by keeping His commandments. This keeps anything from building up between Him and us to break our relationship. Thus, we can freely receive God's blessings upon our lives, because of our obedience.

Second, by demonstrating the power of God in our own life, and showing the love of God toward them, they will be convicted of their own wrong-doing, having "coals of fire" heaped upon their heads. In such a way, they may themselves come to repentence. We will never see anyone come to repentence when we repay evil for evil.

What the great apostle Paul wrote here in the book of Romans did not originate with him, however. Jesus himself taught the same thing in the Sermon On The Mount:

Love your enemies, and pray for those whose persecute you.(Matt. 5:44)

In this way, we show that we are truly sons and daughters of God. Our human, fleshly response may be to repay like with like, or give as good as we get, but as children of God, we have to learn to treat people as God would treat them. We probably all learned that Golden Rule when we were very small children: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Jesus went on to say that we will not have any reward if we show love only toward those who show love to us --- even the worst heathen does that! Instead, we are to show the love of God to all people. Especially we are to demonstrate God's love to those who are un-lovable, unlovely, and unloving. We cannot claim to be Christians and yet refuse to show that our lives and our tongues are in submission to God, and under the control of the Holy Spirit. We cannot praise God, and yet curse man.

We must remember, there but for the grace of God go I. We once were as they are now, unlovely, unloving, and in bondage to evilness in our lives. There are reasons people do what they do. There is an old Indian saying, 'Do not judge another until you have walked a mile in their mocassins. In other words, since we do not know the circumstances that make another person act the way they do, we cannot judge them. This is also taught in the Bible, where we are told:

"Judge not, lest you be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matt. 7:1-2)
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matt. 18:35)

We are not to usurp authority to judge and censure others harshly. By doing so, we provoke Godís anger against ourselves, being ourselves guilty and faulty. Unless we stop our imperious and proud finding of fault with others, we are inviting God's anger upon ourselves, and will be judged more harshly ourselves. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to be judged any more harshly! Instead, we who have received God's incredible grace must in turn extend that grace toward others, and one of the best ways we can do that is by taming our tongues.

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