It was a conversation that wasn’t going well. We disagreed, and no one wanted to take responsibility. He said words. I said words. Then he walked away. I went back to washing the dishes. Nothing was resolved, and I felt horrible. Why did my last words of the conversation have to be so judgmental? Why do I always lean toward negativity? Why not pause and think before I speak? Or, why not just say nothing? Why? Oh. Why?
And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:6
Someone else talks about others as if talking is going out of style. She shares intimate details about her own life with others. And she shares any and all details she knows about others lives. Nothing is sacred. And no one is off limits. She talks out of both sides of her mouth, so one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:7-8
There is another who speaks lies. She tells the largest and grandest stories. Unsuspecting hearers might never know that the stories she tells are all fabrications. She tries to outdo anyone who is telling their story. She is competitive and she must win. At all costs. I wonder if she even knows what’s true anymore.
Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. James 3:9
He says vulgar words intertwined throughout his business conversations. I always wonder why that one word is such an important part of his vocabulary. But the word comes out without a second thought. I wonder how he turns that word off and on, especially when he’s talking to his customers.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
There’s the woman who could cut your throat with her words. At times, she could be kind and generous, and then out of nowhere hack you to pieces with her choice of words. Her words can be brutal and vicious. They are said out of fear and loathing. Loathing of herself, not of the victim. And fear of not being the one in charge. But the innocent party doesn’t know that. They have just received the worst verbal lashing in history. And can they recover?
And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! James 3:10
Words are everything to the hearer. They can stir the pot or they can calm the storm. We can soothe a soul or break a heart. With just a word or two. Our words are powerful. Why don’t we use them to build up each other. Once spoken, words can never be unsaid.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. James 3:2
How do we stop the words that shouldn’t be said before they’re said? How do we stop lying, gossiping, cussing, nagging and stretching the truth? Oh. We must turn to the One who spoke the first words. The one who hears all words. And knows the intent of the words. We can only break the habit of using hurting words by reading the Word. With much prayer and discipline, the words can be stopped. We can bite our tongue and refrain from offending and abusing others. We must want to change before we can change. God help us.
I must ask myself. Is there a pattern of using inappropriate words in in my life? What are the triggers that take my words down a path they shouldn’t go? Is it pride? Or revenge? Is it anger? Or greed? Or fear? What is the motive for my words? To hurt someone? To get even? To make my point at all costs? To get my way? Do I care if my words offend or annoy someone? Do I care?
We say the Lord is Holy, and he is the giver of all gifts. How can ugly words come from the mouth that also speaks praise? How can the mouth that speaks truth also speak lies? How can the tongue that speaks compliments also spew evil?
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29