1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Part of maturing as a Christian is learning to control our tongues – how we speak. How we speak about God, others, ourselves, and even the world around us reflects where we are in our faith and the attitude of our heart. James reminds us of the power of how we speak. It has the ability to bring joy and point people toward Jesus, but it also can cause destruction and deception.
As I consider the impact of the words I speak, I am confronted that my words are not always life-bringing. So, as I consider my application of this passage, my first response is to ask God to soften my heart and mould me into who He wants me to be. My second application is that God would increase my awareness of how I speak and that I would learn to use my words for the glory of God.
Lord, thank you for your grace towards me. Thank you that as I put my faith in you, you mould me into a new creation. God, please help me to pay attention to the words I speak. Might I use my tongue to glorify your name and bring people closer to you, and not bring destruction and discouragement. Amen.
Written by Ps. Andrea Molteno