Taming the Tongue and Finding True Wisdom
By Amy Hunt
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” James 3:9-10
Read: James 3
Raise your hand if you’ve got permanent teeth marks in the end of your tongue? Or ever wanted to grab those awful words that flew out of your mouth and shove them back down your throat? Well, if you don’t or haven’t, James says you must be perfect!
Can you drink that in for a moment? This chapter is not about if you can control your sexual desires, your finances, your emotions, your actions… it’s about controlling what you say.
Apparently, that’s the ultimate expression of self-control, and we CAN’T do it solo.
James is very clear – “a world of evil”, “corrupts the whole person”, “sets…whole course of his life on fire”, “set on fire by hell”, “no man”, “restless evil, full of deadly poison”.
Did you catch all that? Does it go down kind of dry and scratchy or laced with razor blades?
Whew! James did NOT mince his words and for good reason. Our tongues are a small part, yet are pivotal in how our lives play out. Should we take this lightly? By no means.
James continues by explaining Heavenly wisdom, and it’s ugly, evil stepsister “earthly ‘wisdom’”. I like to think there’s a flow to this chapter that connects each aspect to the next as a byproduct of the former:
A controlled tongue -> wisdom; wisdom -> a good life & deeds; a good life & deeds -> harvest of righteousness. Yay! Thank you, James.
Take some time to memorize and savor James 3:9-10. Then complete the following:
- Fire can be both beneficial and destructive. Make a list of ways that fire can be both helpful and harmful. Think fire in a fireplace as the good kind and a wild fire as the bad.
- The tongue is likened to fire. James tells us we can praise (helpful) & curse (harmful) with it. Now make a list of ways you’ve used your tongue to “praise [your] Lord and Father” and still “curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” (i.e. sing songs joyfully on Sunday morning but chastise my son that afternoon for spilling his drink)
- A list can also be made to compare and contrast earthly wisdom vs. Heavenly wisdom. Are there any conventional ideas that you live by that may counter Scripture? Where do you trust the world for answers as opposed to asking and seeking God?
This week’s challenge:
Every believer, regardless of Biblical knowledge and maturity in Christ, still needs accountability and the power of the Holy Spirit (that raised Jesus from the dead) to really tackle taming the tongue and achieve Heavenly wisdom. So first things first – make a daily habit of pleading with the Holy Spirit to act on your behalf as you go throughout your day, especially in what you say. Then, find at least one trustworthy and faithful woman in your life to hold you accountable for what you say and how you are seeking out wisdom. She may need to set you straight or nudge you to open your Bible more often. This can become a priceless treasure and a lifeline in your walk with God!
If you’re still seeking out God, Jesus, and the whole “being a Christian thing,” take some time to reflect on just exactly from where you want your wisdom to originate. Do you trust humanity to ultimately guide you, or do you sense a presence beyond us that just might actually know it all and know what’s best? If you are leaning towards the latter, let us know so that we can help you wrap your brain and heart around a relationship with Jesus. He’s right there waiting.
Heavenly Father, we are so immensely grateful that you formed and fashioned us, including this tongue that sin corrupted despite your perfect design. We know that you desire for us to love you first, and then others, which means we need to be mindful of what we say and use this tongue for more praise than cursing. We know we cannot accomplish this on our own and ask for more of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us doing mighty things, especially in the words we use. Please give us discernment against earthly wisdom and grant us Heavenly wisdom daily and more and more as we seek to learn your word and know you better through our study of James. May we put you first and seek your understanding. Thank you for Jesus and his death and resurrection that cover even our foulest words! And please forgive us when those words leave our lips. We love you. We adore you. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
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