“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 are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor [desires]. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”James 3:3-5
I remember being a little kid and we would say unkind things to each other and whoever had the best comeback would say, “Burn!” We did not consider the feelings of others, but rather sought to have the meanest retort. We were looking to “burn” each other and we were proud when we had the sharpest tongue.
There have been instances in my life when my brain has not been able to keep up with my tongue. I was a young boy and had gotten into trouble and my dad was giving me a verbal lashing. I am not sure what I had specifically done wrong in this instance, as I have committed several million offenses over the course of my adolescent sin career. This time, my dad chose to give me only a verbal warning, and I avoided a spanking.
Even though I was glad to escape a spanking, I did not like what my dad was saying to me, and I soon became angry. I couldn’t wait to leave his presence and I was finally given my release. We lived in a small 900 square foot home, so you had to whisper quietly if you did not want to be heard. I turned the corner and voiced my disagreement with what my dad was telling me. My words were pretty scathing and my dad heard every word I said. I apparently didn’t mutter the words under my breath quietly enough, and I was caught red-handed. My verbal warning turned into a spanking and my dad told me, “You are getting too big for your britches.” My britches got worn out that day and my red hot tongue was the cause of my red hot bottom.
I wish I could say I learned my lesson after that, but my tongue has gotten me into more trouble than anything else. I have said things that I could not take back, and I have ruined relationships because I was not able to control my tongue. I have used the excuses of being outspoken and speaking my mind, but God does not accept my excuses and neither did those who were affected by it. I am learning to bite my tongue, and I ask God to help me be quiet long enough for my mind to catch up to my tongue. We often try to justify what we say, but Matthew 12:34b states, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
What does your tongue say about your heart? Do you use your tongue to say godly things or is your tongue known as a fire starter? Are you asking God to help control your tongue or are you simply just hoping for the best? Words are powerful and we must be careful with what we say and how we say it. May we strive to please God with our tongues, and may our tongues be used to encourage and edify others. Psalms 19:14 gives us this prayer: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” May we be acceptable in His sight, and may He find our words acceptable.