Daily, we see the effects of both the use and misuse of words spoken or posted on social media. Never has there been a time when more scrutiny was given to what people say.
The tongue is one of the most powerful members of the human body. While it is a most wonderful tool given by God, “the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8) This scripture is similar to Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Nearly everyone will agree that the tongue is potent in its influence beyond any other member of the body, for both good and evil. Experience teaches us that with most people, it is easier to control any other part of our body than the tongue. The tongue is such a skillful servant that every ambition, passion and inclination of our fallen, human nature seeks to use it as a channel of expression. If we injure others with our tongues, we are deceiving ourselves if we think we are pleasing to God.
Therefore, it requires vigilance, wisdom, and care on the part of the Christian to control this powerful member of his body and bring it into subjection. Our desire should be to bring our tongue into harmony with the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) We must strive to make our tongue a help and not a hindrance to ourselves or others.
Fallen man does not have the power to control his tongue. “For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect.” (James 3:2 New Living Translation) Since the tongue expresses the sentiments of the heart, it follows that to control the tongue, the heart must be converted. “For of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh.”—Luke 6:45
The importance of having the proper heart condition is stressed throughout the scriptures. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psa. 51:10) “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (I Tim. 1:5 New American Standard Bible)
The apostle James warned us, “Therewith bless we God … and therewith curse we men, … made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:9.10) How careful we should be to speak only that which will be helpful and uplifting, and not destructive or harmful.
We must learn this great lesson and have our hearts gain control over our tongues with Christian love. We are admonished, “Take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.” (Psa. 39:1) Truly, our goal should be, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”—Psalm 19:14
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