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The Power of the Tongue


We may never know the true potential and power of the human tongue. I just think we need to understand the power of the tongue. Speech is one of the greatest powers God has given us. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”


James 3:1-11 says, "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh."


We may never know the true potential and power of the human tongue. I just think we need to understand the power James says that the controlled tongue has the power to direct lives (James 3:1-5). We direct others when we teach. The ability to control our tongue is the ultimate test of maturity and self-control. Don’t underestimate the powerful influence of the tongue! It does two things: (1) It directs our lives. We shape our words and then our words shape us. “You have to live with the consequences of everything you say” (Proverbs 18:20). (2) It directs the lives of those around us. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).


The second thing James says is that the uncontrolled tongue has the power to destroy lives and display our heart (James 3:5-8). Our words can destroy our life and future. Our words can destroy the lives of those around us. I have been hurt by the words, gossip, slander and hate speech of others. However, I must admit that I have also had the same problem of keeping my words seasoned with grace. I have learned two things: (1) Fires are easier to prevent than put out. Notice the illustration of James. (2) Ships are easier to dock than navigate. It is much less difficult to stay silent than to walk back words spoken in haste.


Finally, James says that the uncontrolled tongue is inconsistent and displays our heart (James 3:9-12). “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). How do we know that this is a serious problem? We need to realize two things: (1) We cannot control our tongue ourselves. (2) Our tongue problems are really heart problems. Many Christians gossip and lack of resolve for resolution in conflicts today. We need to seek the mind of Christ in all things (Philippians 2:5).


How do we get control of our tongue? Here are some good ideas: (1) Give your heart to God each day. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1) (2) Guard your heart each moment. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 14:23) And remember that Psalm 141:3-4 says, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil.” (3) Practice blessing others. We need to praise God each and every day. “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him.” (Psalm 147:1) And we also need to bless one person each day with an encouraging word.


We need to watch our mouths and control our tongues. That sounds negative, doesn’t it? But what if we all concentrated on lifting up and edifying each other. Isn’t that what Christianity is really all about? Who have you praised today? Use your words for good! May God bless you and merry Christmas! Have a great week!


You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds


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