“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:8-10 [NASB])
James included in chapter one teachings about the tongue. He taught disciples to bridle their tongues or else they would have deceived hearts and that would prove their religion worthless (1:26). Before that, in verse nineteen, James taught the people they must be slow to speak. In both these instances, he taught Christians to control their mouths because the words people speak reflect their hearts and who they really are.
For James, bridling one’s tongue is an action and James taught continually about faith and actions going together. Jesus taught this, too, when He said it is not what goes into a person that makes him or her defiled, but what comes out of his or her mouth defiles them (Matthew 15:11). Each of these men understood what is in a person’s heart and mind is reflected in what a person does and says. Because of this, James taught that faith without works is dead because a true faith would show a new person indwelled by the Holy Spirit who did the actions God led him or her to do. Without the changed heart, evil would continue to dwell in the person’s heart and mind and at times would be evident in the person’s words and actions. For this reason, James taught a Christian could be noted by his or her actions and words that reflected his or her faith in Jesus Christ.
When James spoke in James 3:8-10, he emphasized that no one could tame the tongue. He spoke truth. Without the power of the implanted Holy Spirit in our hearts as Christians, we would continue to periodically speak or do things that were not righteous, but evil. Our emotions, heart, and mind would still be led by the whim of Satan as we battled him in our own strength. At one moment, our mouths could pour forth beauty upon a person for their accomplishments or offer encouragement, solace and hope to someone who needs sympathy and at other times, it could speak profanities and swear about God. A person who speaks both good and bad words is not under the power of God. No human strength is great enough to defeat Satan’s in our lives because we are sinful and unrighteous. God is stronger than Satan and offers His strength and power to Christians to combat the power of sin, the temptations Satan hurls at believers.
Blessings and curses should not come out of the mouths of Christians. Bridling the tongue shows ones faith. It is an action. The power to control one’s tongue comes from the power of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life. The Holy Spirit has the power to change the heart and mind of the person. By accepting and using the power the Holy Spirit gives, a person can bridle his or her tongue. In that way, the person is acting out his or her faith and growing more Christlike. With each step of walking in the power of the Spirit, a believer grows stronger in his or her faith and is able to thwart more of Satan’s attempts to trip up and deceive him or her.
Bridling the tongue requires a changed heart, a heart given to God through faith in Jesus Christ. It also requires the Christian to enact the power the Holy Spirit gives him or her to hold one’s tongue and words in check so that only holy and loving words are spoken. Faith requires mental assent and action and results in righteousness, love, and peace. Only God can do this for people, for without Him humans are sinful and prone to fall to the temptations Satan puts in their ways.
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit He implanted in you to give you power and strength to combat Satan and temptation? Have you acted upon the power of the Spirit to live your daily life? If you have, then you will see fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, and self-control.
I urge you today to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
I urge you to walk with the strength and power of the Holy Spirit acting with His power to bridle your tongue so God’s goodness and His glory are made known.