Our words can bring themes of destruction or themes of life transformation but notice the verse in James 3…
7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
What does that teach? The human tongue is uncontrollable. You can’t do it. We can train dogs to do tricks, Flipper to jump through a hoop, elephants at a circus, sometimes tigers and lions, we can train birds to send messages, but we can’t control the human tongue. We can’t do it. It must come from outside of us because our tongue problem is a heart problem. Look at verse 9.
This passage is teaching us that our tongue problem isn’t a discipline issue, it is a worship issue, it is a heart issue and sometimes in my heart, when I am honest, I worship what others think about me. I want to be funny, to be witty, to fit in, and I take my eyes off Jesus and I just focus on trying to win the approval of others. We do this with our humor, our intellect to let people know what we know, our lifestyle to let people know what we have done and where we have been and slowly we start to feel like we’re not that funny, we’re not that smart, our stories aren’t that interesting and we start to feel insecure, lack of confidence, lack of self worth, maybe they don’t like us, maybe they just don’t get it, and so we start taking shots at other people, putting them down, making ourselves feel better, and if it ever hurts anyone’s feelings we can always go the universal trump card, “I was just joking, I was just kidding.” We do that with our spouse, our kids, our friends and even those of us who are a little more quiet, we do it in our heart, and maybe we don’t say those things but we think them.
Controlling our tongue isn’t about self-control because there is a deeper heart-issue taking place. It’s about worship. When our hearts are filled with gratitude for what Jesus has done for us, the cross, His death, the resurrection, His life, His love, then there won’t be space to get caught up in this cycle of what people think. As we look to Jesus through prayer, confession, scripture, then when I see people I won’t see them through my lens of wanting to be witty, wanting to be witty, wanting to be accepted, but through His lens of wanting to be compassionate, encouraging, and affirming. When I see people it won’t be for what they can do for me, but out of gratitude of what Jesus has done for me, and I will want to do for others. And when our eyes are on Jesus it will result in boldness, because my confidence won’t be if you think I am funny, smart, or have an exciting life, but it will be in who I am in Christ.
If we examine our heart and find that we have a word problem then our response is to fill our heart with something outside of ourselves…Jesus. Fall in love with Him and then out of the overflow our heart, our mouth will speak.