I mentioned in my Healing With Your Words post that it would be my last post on the Words Are Powerful series. I got to thinking when reading my Bible one day and I ran across a very powerful passage of Scripture. God spoke to me about writing one more post on this series before we start our Faith for the Believer series. So, this will be the last post in this series.
I was reading my daily devotional and the main Scripture really caught my attention. Proverbs 29:11, “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” I am guilty of not holding back my anger in the past, and I’m sure you are just as guilty. No one is perfect. Many times we would like to take back what we said and our negative actions towards others as well.
The proverb explains that only a fool will vent their anger on others. Anger leads to strife, which never works out for the good. The meaning of strife is angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental or ordinary everyday issues. Another word for strife is conflict and no winners.
We all have many stories about our anger and strife. These stories will always lead to how it caused division between friends, coworkers, families, and churches. Our stories are too numerous to tell, but there is one way to remove anger and strife in our lives. It all has to do with our tongue.
Grab your Bibles and turn to the Book of James, Chapter Three, verses 1-12 will be the passage for our discussion. Some background about James. He is Jesus’ half-brother, lived in the same household, and not a believer until he saw the miracles Jesus performed. He knew his brother is the Son of God. James discusses how the tongue is powerful, perverse or wicked, and polluted or corrupted.
The first five verses of our passage show how the tongue is a powerful or prominent member of our body. He mentions many of us have no business becoming teachers as many will judge them more strictly than others (v. 1). The reason for his assumption is we have issues in controlling our tongue or speech. If we could control ourselves, we would be perfect (v. 2). Easier said than done, right? We all have a bad habit of stumbling because we all fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
In verse three, James speaks more in-depth using three analogies of a bridle, ship’s rudder, and a spark to show how to control our tongue. My wife spent many years riding and caring for horses on a farm in Pennsylvania. She had so much joy. To control what the horse does, she used a bridle, which has a small bit that she would put in the horse’s mouth, and controlled the horse’s entire movements.
From my 20+ years serving in the United States Navy, rudders on our ships control their movements. Most Navy ships have two or more to steer our ships through all sorts of weather. Without rudders, the Quartermaster could not control any of the ship’s movements.
In the last analogy, James used a spark that causes a forest fire. In the summertime, mostly on the west coast, many fires have consumed forests and cities. They are caused by a spark either through weather or someone being careless putting out campfires. Sparks cause millions of dollars in damages, casualties in human lives, and take a significant amount of time to control.
These three analogies James discussed are very powerful just like the tongue. The tongue is a small part of the human body. Your tongue can cause life and death (Proverbs 18:21), it can expose anger, which brings about strife. Your tongue can form words that are uplifting and fruitful and can tear someone down. It leads us up to the second thing James talks about the tongue.
The tongue is perverse, which means to deliberately act unreasonable or unacceptable. Our tongue is influential. It is satanic and infectious. The tongue is a whole world of wickedness that corrupts the entire body (v. 6). What is worse is it will lead your life in the wrong direction if used recklessly.
Not just is the tongue an uncontrollable fire, but it is also like an untamed beast. As James mentions in verse seven the nature of wild animals such as birds, reptiles, and fish are tamed by humans, but no human has been able to tame the tongue. The reason is that it is a restless evil and just as Psalm 140:3 states, “The tongue’s sting is like a snake; the venom of a viper drips from their lips.” What the Psalmist means is the tongue spits out words that are of hate and gossip.
Lastly, the tongue is polluted or another word used is corrupted. What I am about to say goes for everyone, even Christians. Our tongue is so uncontrollable and corrupted that it will one minute speak praises and good words to people and the next minute speak cursing words and wishing evil upon people (vs. 9-10).
In verses 11-12, James ends this passage using natural elements to explain how polluted our tongues are by comparing fresh or sweet water to salt or bitter water. James continues stating could a fig tree bear olives or grapevine bear figs? We all know that answer is no. James’ point is very clear that we should never use our tongues as an instrument of inconsistency.
It does not matter, Christian or not, we need to control our tongues. One way is to not indulge our evil desires and clothe ourselves with the presence of Jesus (Romans 13:14). J. Ronald Blue in his writing of James in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, declares, “Small and influential, the tongue must be controlled; satanic and infectious, the tongue must be corralled; salty and inconsistent, the tongue must be cleansed.” Amen!
I am Dale Van De Bogart and I approve of this message!
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