Taming the tongue can be categorized as “mission impossible”, or at least it may seem that way. Speaking is something we do often but hardly recognize we do. The main text we will be looking at it James 3:5-12. This portion of Scriptures is one of the main text we look at or think about when we think of taming the tongue. James gives an excellent description of what the tongue does and is, and how powerful it can be. “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. 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. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
James makes it very clear in this passage that the tongue is the only thing that cannot be tamed. Now notice in verse 8 it says “but no human being can tame the tongue”. God controlled and tamed even Satan, and he can tame our tongues just as easily. But no human can do it. Why? We as humans are flesh and blood, we are weak. As powerful as we may think we are, we can’t tame the tongue. So what’s the point of trying? Well, there is a power higher than ours that can do anything. If we pray and repent he will help us do it. With Christ we can do all things but without Christ, we can’t do anything. In Matthew 19:26 Jesus says, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Just as James said in the passage above we need to tame our tongue. But how do we do that? Does that mean we have to put tape over our mouth and never speak again? Of course not! We need to tame it and only let positive things exit out of it, by praying, and watching our mouth. Paul says in 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.” We need to tame the tongue by watching what we say, and never put anybody down.
James says that the tongue is like fire. It is as dangerous and consuming as fire. One negative comment and the person’s soul can rot. Words are more powerful than any physical harm possible. Words don’t affect you physically, they affect you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The world is evil, and if we talk just like it, how are we supposed to be a light? We are just another shadow in the darkness, if we put others down. Instead being a light is what we’re called to do, and encouraging others and taming the vicious tongue is the way to do that.
The tongue is the vocal passage for whatever the heart is feeling. Jesus says this in Matthew 12:34 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. We may not realize it, but whatever we speak, whether we mean to say it or not, our heart feels that way.
As we conclude this study, we must remember to watch our words. The tongue is dangerous, and we can kill a person’s soul with it. But we can also save a person’s soul with it as well. It can be used for good or evil, it is up to you what you will choose to do with it.