The tongue really is you, it really is.  The tongue is a tattletale, and it tells on the heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  The tongue is the revealer of the heart. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” (Col. 3:8-10) The new man in Christ has a new mouth, has a new tongue, new speech.

In Psalm 5:9, David knew the hearts of his enemies. My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Open grave” expresses the corruption of the heart. The tongue is a deadly arrow (Ps 64:3).  Nowhere is the union of faith and works more visible than in your speech and my speech. James says your tongue itself will take your spiritual temperature. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-39)

When the apostle Paul characterizes the fallenness of man, when he wants to design all the ugly features of man’s depravity, and when he wants to describe the wretchedness of man in his sinful condition, he hones right in on the tongue.  And in Romans, chapter 3, very familiar words, in verse 13, he says this is how you describe a sinner: Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies. Snake venom drips from their lips.”  The focal point of our fallenness and depravity is the mouth.

So the mouth is the monitor on the human condition.  Right words, then, would be the manifestation of a righteous life.  That’s what James is saying.  And so, in chapter 3, he calls us to measure our speech, to see if it is consistent with what we claim to be the reality of our faith.  Controlling the tongue, then, is essential and James gives us compelling reasons to control our tongues.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:43-45)

Wisdom shows itself in wise speech. God holds us responsible for the results of our destructive words. The wisdom of God that helps control the tongue, can help control all of our actions. Accepting God’s wisdom will affect your speech. Your words will convey true humility and lead to peace. Think before you speak and allow God to give you self control.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” (James 1:19)

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