So many times during the course of my life the wisest thing to come out of my mouth was, “Sure wish I hadn’t said that!” For certain, that statement was the caboose to some train of misguided words which ended in the proverbial train wreck. But why do we find ourselves with the word train long gone from the depot of our brain with our mouth just jugging away at full speed? How do we control our mouth? Better yet, how can we sync mouth and brain so that we say what we mean and mean what we say?
Tongue is a Fire
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: 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. 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” (James 3:6-8).
Our tongue or what we say is the “fire of hell” a “world of iniquity” and not only defiles us but, “setteth on fire the course of nature”. The course of nature is more accurately translated as the wheel of life. In other words our mouth can cause us to sin, to get out of the way of God and on the road to death and destruction.
James very wisely points out that no man can tame the tongue. So what are we to do? Are we forever sentenced to the fire of hell coming out of our mouth, destroying our lives onto destruction?
Job responding to his friend Zophar who accused Job of “lies” in a “multitude of words” said, “O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom” (Job 13:5).
King Solomon expanded upon the concept of being quiet when he said, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28)
Do not try to control your mouth for you can’t. The basic idea is not to open your mouth at all. This way you don’t release the fire from hell and are considered all the more wise for remaining silent. In the verse before the above verse from Proverbs Solomon says, ““He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit” (Proverbs 17:27).
A man of knowledge and understanding is, “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
Jesus said, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:37).
Be clear, concise to the point with your response. In many words there are many lies. It is easy to embellish, expand and contort meanings and messages the longer we talk. But think about this for a moment. Even if what you say is nothing but the truth, are you unnecessarily clogging up the airwaves with endless talk and babble? Are you dominating the conversation? No one likes being around such a person. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Maybe it’s because we are to listen twice as much as we talk?
Plus it is very easy to slip into gossip and unproductive, unrighteous conversation when we talk past our intended message.
One of the tenets to the Apostle Paul’s ministry is edifying and uplifting the Church and other people. He wonderfully expressed this in his teachings about communicating with others.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
The spirit within will rise up to your mouth. The fruit of the spirit is in, “all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). Within the righteous spirit are love, patience and forbearance. Lean on these attributes when speaking with others. Yes, it can be difficult to be quiet and patient during many a conversation. But don’t think in terms of being right or getting the last word in. Think in terms of uplifting, edifying and loving the other person. Let that be your guide in talking.
James said the tongue was uncontrollable hell fire. Job said to be quiet. Solomon said you would be thought wise if you do. Jesus said to always be clear, concise and to the point when you speak. Paul said to edify and minister grace to your listener. I say God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Listen, think, discern, understand, respond, edify.
Post your comments below about the tongue being a fire.