Summary: The tongue is a small organ which is capable of exhibiting a powerful positive or negative force.
Text: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9).
Every part of our body is very important and every part serves a special function. When God created us, he knew what he was doing. He created us with very intricate parts, some that we cannot see because they are within us.
We have not seen our heart, liver, pancreas, intestine or lungs, but we know they are present. If our heart, liver, intestine or lungs are completely removed, we would cease to live. The pancreas can be removed, but then medications must be put into place.
We can see our arms, legs, ears, eyes, nose, etc. There is one other little part of our anatomy we can see, but only when we open our mouth. That little part is called the tongue and is very important bundle of skeletal muscles.
The tongue enables us to taste solid foods and liquids because the surface is covered with taste buds. The tongue also enables us to form sounds so that we can form words people can understand. It also helps us mix the foods we eat, swallow foods, and fight germs.
You and I know people who never let their tongues rest because they are constantly talking. Talking is a good thing if it is positive. It is when people talk negatively that problems arise.
In the very first verse the 3rd chapter, James talks about teachers. Usually when we think of teachers, we think about those who educate our children. All of us have gone to school and therefore, we have been under the influence of a teacher. When we went to our Sunday School classes, the person in control of the class was the teacher.
Back when James wrote this letter, teachers in the Jewish religion were highly respected. The Jews who turned to follow Jesus and became followers were so excited about their new way of life that they wanted to tell others about it. Thus, they were teachers. Since teachers were highly respected and trusted, James informed them that they would be judged more strictly.
James was insinuating that the words, actions, thoughts and daily living must be in accordance with God’s Word. He said this because these teachers would have a great affect upon the spiritual lives of the people they taught. Anyone in a teaching or leadership profession or position must teach the truth, speak the truth, and live the truth. If they fail in this respect, they will be more harshly judged than the person who did not teach or who was not a leader.
In verse 2, James says, “We all stumble in many ways.” All of us have undoubtedly said the right thing at the right time and conversely the wrong thing at the wrong time. The problem with many of us is that we do not think before we speak. The normal process is to think before you speak. If we would think before we speak, hurtful words would not come from out mouth.
The words that come from our mouths can have a positive or negative affect upon the person to whom they are directed. Words can bring life or words can pronounce death. Listen to these words by an unknown author:
“A careless word may kindle strife,
A cruel word may wreck a life;
A bitter word may hate instill,
A brutal word may smite and kill;
A gracious word may smooth the way
A joyous word may light the day;
A timely word may lessen stress,
A loving word may heal and bless.”
What kind of words come from your mouth?
Do you think before you speak?
I am guilty of speaking without thinking. When I speak without thinking, I usually end up saying something unkind, hurtful, or irritating. I am not perfect and neither are you. James says, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (v. 2).
None of us are perfect and we are responsible for what comes out of our mouths. All of us are imperfect and all of us are sinners. Do you remember the story about the woman caught in adultery? The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought her to Jesus and insisted that according to the Law of Moses, the woman must be stoned to death.
Jesus said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Jesus said this because he knew that all these people accusing the woman had spread gossip, bragged, manipulated, exaggerated, complained, said unkind words, hurt other’s feelings or lied. All of these things involve the tongue.