I remember being at a bible study once where we were studying the Book of James. I had been a believer for less than a year and still quite early in the sanctification process. While I don’t remember exactly what happen, I do remember that before the study started I was mouthing off about something in front of the group. But God has a knack for teaching tough lessons as he did with me when we opened our study to the third chapter of James:
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 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. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:4-10
Ouch, I remember my heart sinking as we read those verses.
For some more than others, controlling our tongue is a tough battle. And I am not talking about cursing as much as biting or judgmental statements. And while we should be concerned about how our words may hurt others, we should also be concerned about what our speech reveals about our heart:
“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Matt 15:16-19
While I cannot tell you that I have completely bridled my tongue, I can tell you that I have come a long way. Do you know how I did it? By letting the Spirit work on me and clean up those heart issues which led to my unbridled tongue. It isn’t so much that I have gained control over my tongue, but that the fuel that spurred on my tongue has slowly dissipated – things like anger, bitterness, and pride. These are changes that only the Lord make.