“Watch Your Mouth”
By Pastor Donald Parker
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” What Solomon is saying is our words are powerful and they can either build one up or tear one down. So, we must choose our words wisely, because if we don’t, our mouth will speak words that will damage and in some cases destroy our relationships.
James writes about watching our mouth in James 3:3-11. If you want to learn how to get along with people better, if you want to have stronger relationships, if you want people to see Jesus in you, you better watch your mouth.
One of the reasons we need to watch our mouth is because our words control our direction. James writes in verse 3-5, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. (4) Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. (5) Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
The analogies of a bit, rudder, tongue and spark all have one thing in common; they’re all small but very effective controllers. They’re all capable of directing something much larger than themselves. James is saying even though the tongue is only a small part of the body, it has the power to control one’s whole person and influence everything in his/her life.
The words we choose will either direct us toward violence or peace. Our tongue can either crush the spirit or soothe the discouraged. Proverbs 15:4 “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
Another reason we need to watch our mouth is because our words can cause destruction. Verse 7-8 “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, (8) but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James is basically saying, the human mouth is like a poisonous snake, always ready to strike and inject its poison.
If we would learn just how deadly our tongues can be; those hurtful, damaging, degrading words, then we can take the first step in keeping it under control. You see, no one can tame the tongue, but Christ can; and He does it by changing our hearts and minds. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” and Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
James goes on to say in verses 9-11“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. (10) Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (11) Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? (12) My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
It just doesn’t make much sense how with our tongues we praise our Lord one moment, and then in another we start arguing – cursing – name calling – slandering – gossiping – criticizing – put each other down – and shouting abusive language. We have this nasty, double-sided tongue, where blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth, and James says, “Brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
As Christians our words should produce the kind of fruit that we’ve been created to produce; the fruit of righteousness. Just as you would expect to pick olives from and olive tree, a Christians words should sound Christ-like. A believer who truly strives to become more like Christ will not jeopardize his/her testimony by the regular use of unwholesome words.
You see here’s the deal; only a renewed heart can produce pure speech. If the source of your thoughts, your actions and your words are the result of the love of God in your hearts, then God gives you the power to not use the kind of harmful words that James warns us about.
To know more about Jesus and His power to change your life, find yourself a Bible teaching church. If you don’t have a church family, we invite you to join us at 11 am Sunday morning at First Baptist Church Van Horn; A Place to Belong.