Everyone has a problem with words at some point in time. Emotions get the best of us and reckless words spill out. A lack of self-control, impatience, or a focus on self is certainly fuel that can spark an unhealthy fire.
“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6 (NKJV)
And where do our words come from? The heart! And if we have a problem with our words we also have a problem with our heart.
“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.” Luke 6:45 (NKJV)
This is why we are warned to keep a watch over our heart!
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
The book of James says that no man can tame the tongue. Where then is our hope?
“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 similitude 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?” James 3:8-11 (NKJV)
God formed us with much care and is intimately acquainted with our strengths, faults, and weaknesses. He knows the power of words. Did He not speak our world and all living things into existence? He knows how the words of man can bring life or death.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)
Our hope is in Christ. It is not within our own power that a tongue is tamed. A harnessed tongue requires a supernatural power. The kind of wisdom we listen to affects our speech and there are two kinds of wisdom: one from above and one that is demonic. To harness our tongues we must first consider the treasure within our heart. ”For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)
Have you planted good seeds in fertile soil? Is there good fruit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, within your heart? Are goodness, kindness, gentleness, and peace evident in your daily life? Are you known by your love and joy? Is faithfulness your anchor and are patience and self-control your constant companions? Or, have you filled your heart with earthly passions and bitter envy?
“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:14-18 (NKJV)
Like us, the Apostle Paul struggled with his words and actions. He longed to do good things but sin caused him to do that which he willed not to do. However, I predict that as his relationship with Christ grew his heart filled with heavenly treasures and taming his tongue grew easier.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” Romans 7:15-20 (NKJV)
I will ask, is there salvation for our tongues? Consider the prophet, Isaiah. He had a vision about the wickedness of Judah and Jerusalem. In Isaiah Chapter 5, he speaks out many “Woes to Those” but neglects to see the condition of his own heart. But Chapter 6 brings him to his knees acknowledging his own impurity.
“So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.’” Isaiah 6:5 (NKJV)
To master the tongue we must first acknowledge our need for a higher power, Jesus Christ. Like Isaiah, we must also recognize the condition of our heart and the confess the guilt of our sin. Repentance is paramount. Then, in total submission and humility, we must accept the help offered by our Lord. Purification.
An angel took a live coal from the altar and touched it to Isaiah’s mouth. We too must welcome a burning ember, a char that will not only purify our tongue but burn a memory into our heart. This heart treasure will surely give us victory over our tongue, even if it is a moment-by-moment victory.
“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.” Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)
By guarding our heart and feeding it with the living Word, the constant battle to tame our tongue will be victorious. The things that are impossible for man alone are possible with God by our side.
By the treasures hidden within your heart, and the grace of Jesus Christ, may a spring of life-giving and loving words overflow from within you and bless the world you greet.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NKJV)
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NKJV)