“Show me a Christian that has tamed the tongue, and I’ll show you a perfect man.”
True Christians are God’s ambassadors on earth. Their citizenship is in heaven and they represent and speak on behalf of the true God of the universe. So God wants to teach them to speak like Him, which means knowing how to rule the tongue.
“For we all make many mistakes, and if anyone makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also” (Jam. 3:2, RSV).
We all make mistakes, but mistakes should not be our way of life. If Christians are able to bridle the whole body, then Christ can rule over them.
“Behold we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet they are turned about with a very small helm; whithsoever the governor listeth”(verses 3-4).
A whole ship can be guide through waves and storms with a little rudder. Our tongue expresses what is in our mind – and if we can just control our tongues, we actually guide our whole being and demonstrate a great deal of character.
“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of inequity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell”(verses 5-6).
Hell comes from the Greek word Gehenna, and refers to the lake of fire. God is talking about His begotten sons here, whose eternal lives are at stake. The expression “whole body”, speaks of defiling our whole being — setting the body of Christ on fire — making it a world of inequity. Just by the wrong use of our tongue, we can talk ourselves right into the lake of fire.
Why is it so important to tame our tongue? Because those whom God is working with now will teach every person who has ever lived. Christians need the mind of Christ to direct everything they say. Jesus Christ continually spoke uplifting words while He was here on earth. This is the mind that must be in Christians. They must learn to exercise wisdom in this area. They must learn to say things that will encourage people and lift them up.
A parent also can alter the entire direction of a child’s life, just by the words he speaks to the child. Once your communication turns negative, the cycle quickly becomes destructive. This is the time to repent and watch the tongue. Christ holds the Christian parent accountable for every word he utters.
In general, manking cannot control the tongue and has turned this world into tohu and bohu. It is ruled by deceitful and desperately wicked hearts (Jer. 17:9).
James teaches us about the tongue as no other book in the Bible does. The tongue should express the thoughts of Christ’s mind (Phil. 2:5). But good or bad, the tongue expresses what is on the mind.
“For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”(Jam. 3:7-8).
Our tongue is full of lethal poison, and no man can tame it. Only God can. Notice: “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (James 3:9).
James emphasizes the fact that we are made in the likeness of God. We look like God and were also created with a mind that animals don’t have—in order to develop the mind, or image, of God! Man has a much higher potential than any animal which can’t be given the love or wisdom of God! But to achieve that potential, he must learn to control the tongue. That takes the character and mind of Christ. The more you get that mind in you, the more you overcome your human nature and become a force for good!
“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (verse 10). Do we bless God, but don’t talk like Him? Do we love to praise God and “love Jesus”—but at the same time, commit unlawful acts? That is like bitter and sweet water coming from the same fountain, and God will have none of that!
We are ambassadors for Christ. We speak for Him. Do we talk like God? Do we talk like the Bible? Is our speech grounded in God’s Word?
“Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (verses 11-12). God demands that we speak the truth. How incongruous would it be to receive bitter and sweet water from the same fountain.
Water is a type of God’s Holy Spirit. We must let God’s Holy Spirit produce pure thoughts in our minds—not contradictory thoughts of confusion.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (verse 13).
A good conversation is coupled with wisdom, which is the mind of God. This is edifying and uplifting and shows the fruits necessary for Christian growth. God makes a big deal out of a little member of our body. True Christians should take note and make the necessary chanhes to please their creator. Nothing else will satisfy God. And nothing else will bring the reward of eternal life.