The tongue can be a mighty tool for God. How have you used your words this week to glorify God? Discipline your tongue men!
James 3:5-6 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
No One Can Tame it!
It’s important to understand the discipline of taming the tongue and using it for God’s glory rather than a tool of destruction. As James warns us, taming the tongue is extremely difficult. Oh how powerful our words are.
“What power the written or spoken word has! Nations have risen and nations have fallen to the tongue. Lives have been elevated and lives have been cast down by human speech. Goodness has flowed like a sweet river from our mouths, and so has the cesspool.”
We must come together in recognizing the power of the tongue in our own lives and in the lives of our families and all we come in contact with.
The verses from James above remind us of how much destruction the tongue can cause. A small spark can create a huge forest fire with all of its damage. Every year during fire season we hear of a fire started by a small spark. The same is true of a small seemingly trivial ill-spoken word. We see from the verses in James that Satan himself will use it to destroy. Our destructive words are fueled by evil. I can still remember some harsh words and the effects they had. Those are painful lessons.
We see a number of ways the tongue causes damage. The first is gossip.
Oh, gossip is so tasty to nibble on isn’t it? As men, we may think of this as an issue with the fairer gender, but we also like to hear things and like to be in the know. The sense of knowledge and power and control that comes with knowledge is very tempting for us.
Prov 18:8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Be careful not to gossip and to stop others when they are gossiping about a situation you are not part of and don’t have any part in the resolution of it. Beware of the “I’m telling you so you can pray” temptation.
We may automatically jump to sexual innuendo which is extremely damaging to ourselves and the hearer in the area of purity, but innuendo also includes technically telling the truth, but in reality painting someone in a bad light.
If I say, “I won’t even tell you what I heard about ________” What was your first thought? It was probably that I had heard something negative about a person. In reality, perhaps it was something good and I’ve just painted someone in a bad light.
“Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.” Hughes is not suggesting that we don’t compliment people or encourage them, but rather not be deceptive or manipulative with it. We are to be consistent in how we speak of people. Are we serious enough to sing with the Psalmist,
“May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, 4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”” (Psalm 12:3-4)
“Fault-finding seems endemic to the Christian Church. Perhaps this is because a taste of righteousness can be easily perverted into an overweening sense of self-righteousness and judgmentalism.” This is a strong statement, but I believe a true one. It is easy to find fault in what someone else is doing, but much harder to see it within ourselves. We criticize to avoid our own weaknesses.
Men, do you find yourself first noticing faults and all the ways someone in their ministry or work could have done better rather than all the good they are doing for the kingdom? This is sin! It is not a talent, it is not a gift, it is not being administrative, it is being self-centered. The root of a critical spirit is the belief that “I know best” and “that’s not how I would have done it.”
This is not to say that healthy constructive feedback is not helpful. Feedback is one of our traits as Men Of Destiny, but it is to be done in love, with fear and trembling and balanced with a healthy dose of encouragement. I have seen many people with incredible potential for the kingdom of God derailed by a critical spirit.
We are not to speak in a way that runs down or diminishes another. This can include some of the items above, but also includes when we use truth to diminish another.
“What people like this do not know is that most people are painfully aware of their own faults – and would so like to overcome them – and are trying very hard to do so. Then someone mercilessly assaults them believing they are doing their spiritual duty – and, oh, the hurt!”
We can easily prevent the Holy Spirit from working by trying to be the Holy Spirit.
“Others imagine that their spirituality and sensitivity equips them to pull others from their pedestals and unmask their hypocrisies.”
Usually when I find myself doing this, it is my own hypocrisy that I am attempting to hide. Don’t we usually come down the hardest on others on the very things we are weakest in?
The tongue reveals the true state of our walk.
James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. ”
Like the man who wanted to hear what the pastor said when he hit his thumb with the hammer, our tongue away from church reveals our surrender to God.
The Good Tongue
The tongue also can be used to praise God and declare the gospel. It is through the tongue that we can tell others how Jesus took our place on the cross and paid the price for our sins. It is through the tongue and our relationships with each other that we can speak God’s truth and help others in the process of sanctification. We can encourage and bless others. Furthermore, we can cast vision for our children and worship God Almighty!
We can confess. The tongue can be a mighty tool for God. How have you used your words this week to glorify God? You can speak words to your family tonight and use your words for God!
Here is a list of ways to discipline ourselves.
- Perpetually and lovingly speak the truth in love
- Refrain from being party to or a conduit for gossip
- Desist from insincere flattery
- Stop from running down another
- Avoid degrading humor
- Refrain from sarcasm
- Memorize (and quote) Scriptures which teach the proper use of the tongue.
and a couple more
- To get into the habit of speaking words of blessing and encouragement to our families and others.
- To find ways to speak the truth of salvation to others.
Let’s be men that discipline our tongue and not let hell itself fuel it!
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