When reading the Bible, the third chapter of the Epistle of James, the reader is challenged by a warning concerning their tongue. With the purpose of growing his readers in Christian grace and spiritual maturity, James emphasizes that a child of God must examine the smallest part of their body to insure it is properly controlled.

Discipleship in the Christian faith often attends to learning doctrine, prayer and service. Rarely is there an emphasis on verbal communication, the choice of words, the tone of voice and the intended message. If a Christian is known by his love, it will certainly begin with his language.

The Biblical text declares, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6). As his instruction continues, James points out that animals can be tamed and trained by people, however, he reveals, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

Many problems in our lives are a result of cursing, slandering, lying, gossiping, yelling and insulting other people. Wars are started. Businesses are closed. Churches are split. Marriages end in divorce. Friendships are broke. It was the poison of the tongue that defiled the partnership. Yes James, relationships are set on the fire of hell!

Indeed, the misuse of the tongue brings life’s most tragic consequences. It is interesting that a Christian can pray with flowing, flowery words of praise and blessing in church, only to curse and insult with cutting words of disgust a few minutes later at home. This is an obvious demonstration of hypocrisy.

I have heard many people state that they just “speak their mind.” How unfortunate! Certainly we can do better than that, according to God’s Word. This is a spiritual battle that can be won. It is a stronghold of the mind and spirit. This bondage must be broken. The key is found by yielding to the power of God’s Holy Spirit in confession and faith.

We are living in a time where civility appears to have become extinct.

Good manners, respect of the other’s dignity and character, are being disrespected. We have become desensitized by the name-calling of our senior leaders and authority figures. What kind of example is being set for the young people in our society? In addition, how do we expect to reach a consensus with those whom we disagree if we insult them and slander them behind their back?

I have been in innumerable counseling sessions where a partner has been verbally abused. The relationship was being destroyed by words that cut and kill. The emotional damage has deep and lasting effect on the victim. Many children experience abusive language. Whether it is telling a child they are no good, worthless, stupid or lazy, it demoralizes them and can result in a lifetime of insecurity and a loss of self-worth. I have spent a career kneeling beside the fallen who are living their lives behind prison bars. Their stories of verbal abuse and its effects on their criminal behavior is disconcerting.

Let us examine our hearts, for this is where our words are chosen. We must confront our anger and the root of bitterness that has defiled our hearts. We must seek secret moments alone with God, with deep soul searching and repentance. There we can begin in a new direction. Old behaviors pass away and we will begin anew.

Yes, a Holy Spirit controlled temperament is key to living a life known for Christian virtue. With wholehearted commitment, let us think before we speak. Let our tongues be used to express earnest respect, cooperation and gentleness. The fruit that will be borne will bless, prosper and grow our affairs for the glory of God.

Have a great week and remember, God loves YOU!

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