The Pryor Times

August 16, 2013

Troubles of the tongue


Steve Lay

— Have you ever said something that should not have been said?  James 3:2 says, “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.”  Four verses later, James writes, “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.”  And then he adds in verse 10: “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”  

Misusing the tongue is a universal problem.  The devil has a large arsenal of ways to coerce us into misusing our tongues, especially when we are angry or hurt.  That is why Paul warned in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”

Sometimes young people think they will impress others if they use profanity.  After all, it is referred to as “adult language.”  What a shame!  I cannot imagine spending my money to go watch a movie that is filled with profane language; it turns my stomach.  But apparently the movie industry thinks that such language helps sell tickets.  That is very sad!  

Profanity just reveals a wicked character, a lack of self-control, and a limited vocabulary.  There is nothing impressive about any of those things.  Psalm 10 and Romans 3 describe wicked people, and both chapters state that the mouth of the wicked is full of cursing.

The words we use reveal the kind of heart, or mind, that we have.  In Matthew 12:34-35, Jesus said, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”  We cannot honestly claim, “I said that without thinking.”  If we didn’t think it, we wouldn’t say it.

Sometimes, a person who makes an unkind remark will try to excuse himself by saying, “I didn’t mean that; it just came out!”  Well, the fact is, it couldn’t come out if it were not in there.  We say the things we think.  And God holds us accountable for our thoughts and our words.  Jesus teaches in Matthew 5 that we can sin by having the wrong kinds of thoughts.  Later, in Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus says, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Since we must give account for every idle word we speak, we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that it is permissible to use profanity under certain circumstances.  We are accountable even for the things we say just around our best friends or to our family.  We are also responsible for controlling our tongues even when we are angry or hurt.

In order to control our tongues, we must first control our hearts.  Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  That is why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”  Remember that Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  This shows us that it is vital for Christians to have pure hearts.  Dirty words do not flow from a clean heart.

When a person professes to be a Christian on Sunday, but uses profanity through the week, he is not really a Christian.  A Christian is one who follows the example of Christ.  Christ would not use such language!  When a person tries to use his tongue to bless God and to curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God, that individual is not fooling anyone but himself.  James 1:26 says, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”  God sees through such hypocrisy.  Don’t allow the wrong kind of language to hinder your worship and service to God.

Someone has said, “Be careful of the words you speak, and keep them soft and sweet.  You never know from day to day which one’s you’ll have to eat.”