Summary: James says the tongue is a filthy and foul organ of the body. But Proverbs 15 tells us that that very tongue has ability to do mighty things for God. What does Proverbs tell us are the good things we can use this muscle to do?
OPEN: The tongue.
The tongue is considered a very important part of our culture. So much so that it is central to many of our common sayings. Sayings like:
• I just said that “Tongue-in-cheek”
• Or “are you tongue tied?
• “Will you quit sticking your tongue out.
• Or “That’s a real tongue twister.
• Or “Cat got your tongue?”
Did you realize that your tongue (like your heart) is almost ALL muscle? But, unlike your heart - which goes through routine and repetitive contractions, all of which you have no control of - your tongue is very much under your control.
To prove that, let’s go through a few experiments:
• Put your tongue up against the roof of your mouth.
• Now, put it down behind your bottom teeth.
• Now put it up against your left cheek.
• And now against your right cheek.
Notice how versatile this muscle we call a tongue really is.
In fact, I’ve been told that only a certain percentage of the population can “roll” their tongue. How many of you can do it. (Be sure to congratulate of the members of the audience when they do this).
And so, the tongue is a very agile and intriguing muscle. And there’s a reason for that. First, it’s virtually impossible to eat without having a tongue. The tongue is designed to move food around in your mouth and direct it to your throat. Without your tongue, you would have an extremely hard time of surviving. In fact, one of the ladies of our church said her mother had her tongue removed because of cancer, and has been written up in medical books as being the longest living woman to have had her tongue removed. Despite the difficulty of eating, she pureed her own food and could swallow by tilting her head back.
AND even if you could “eat” without your tongue, you couldn’t taste anything. All of your taste buds are located on your tongue. Imagine going out to eat, paying a huge amount of money for your meal and then… not be able to taste what you’d paid for.
You’d be understandable outraged.
You’ve gone out to that restaurant explicitly to taste food you love, prepared in a special way. But you couldn’t do that if you had no tongue.
AND – of course – one of the primary reasons our tongue is important to us is that if you had no tongue you couldn’t speak. In fact, not only could not talk, you couldn’t sing, and you couldn’t even whistle.
So the tongue is VERY important to us.
But as important to us as the tongue is orthodontists/dentists will all tell you, your mouth and your tongue are the dirtiest parts of our body. That may be why dentists tell us not only to brush our teeth… but also our tongues.
And the Bible agrees.
James 3:5-8 tells us that… “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 tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
Notice James says - our tongue is a world of evil.
It corrupts our whole person.
It sets us on fire because the tongue itself is set on fire by hell.
Then James goes on to say: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
The tongue is restless.
It’s full of poison.
James paints this picture that shows our tongues to be the dirtiest, foulest parts of our bodies.
And Jesus says much the same thing:
“… the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ’unclean.’ Matthew 15:18
What Jesus is saying here is that our mouths are a barometer of what’s in our hearts. If it comes off our tongue, it is inside our hearts. And because all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God our tongues have a lot of bad stuff to work with.
ILLUS: Have you ever eaten something and a couple hours later (there’s no really good way to say this) you belch. And suddenly you get this really bad taste in your mouths. And it even intrudes on your nostrils.
Have you ever had that happen?
And you think to yourself: I wish I had NEVER eaten that!!!
That is what Jesus is describing here.