(If you enjoy reading my posts I would encourage you to subscribe to my blog. There is a “Subscribe” button somewhere on this post. It is easy to miss them if you are relying on Facebook or Twitter feeds)
The first half of James 3 talks much about the battle to tame the tongue. James pours on word picture after word picture to try to get his point across. His point is summed up by what Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Scripture uses lots more word pictures to try to make this point:
- Matthew 12:34 – You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
- Ephesians 4:29 – 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.
- Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
- Proverbs 26:20 – For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
- Proverbs 10:11 – The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
- Proverbs 12:18 – There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
1 Kings 12:6-14 gives a great example of the consequences of using our words foolishly, as well as the consequences of listening to foolish counsel. King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, lost 5/6 of his kingdom just because he spoke rashly and his legacy of ungodliness was cemented – all because he could not tame his tongue.
Most of us don’t have a huge problem with destructive speech. Believers do a pretty good job of not saying the wrong things but a lousy job of intentionally saying words that bless others. We really need to work on doing what Ephesians 4:29 talks about above – building others UP and speaking words of grace.
I came across this prayer in Psalm 141:3 which is a great prayer to pray often and repeatedly:
May this brick help you to to think before you speak and to be intentional about using your words to bless and build others up.