The Bible is clear that we have a choice to make. We can choose to speak words of life or words of death. Our words can lift others up and encourage them, or they can cause irrevocable destruction. I know that I’m not alone in admitting that my words have landed me in trouble from time to time. I’ve certainly said some things that I’m not proud of.
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For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. – James 3:7-8
When we choose to surrender our lives to Christ, we are choosing to hand over our old sinful natures. In return, God renews our hearts and minds to be more like Him. But this doesn’t necessarily mean we will be perfect. Learning to live by our new God-given nature is an ongoing effort. We must choose to continually live under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
As we spend more time with our Creator in prayer and learn more about Him in His Word, we will become more like Him in the process. He continually renews our heart as we continue to surrender to His will. He literally transforms us from the inside out.
Jesus once spoke to the Pharisees (the corrupt religious leaders of His day) telling them that their words indicated what was really going on in their hearts:
“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:34-37
If you’re having trouble taming the tongue, maybe it’s time to do a heart check.
Now I’m sure that we all say harsh things from time to time that we immediately regret. (And we do need to repent for saying such things.) I don’t believe, however, that this is what Jesus is referring to here in this passage; rather He is referring to what is regularly coming out of our mouths. Do we give Him praise one minute and then turn around and slander others with our words? Do we gossip or tell lies? Do harsh words repeatedly come out of our mouths when we are angry or upset?
Without the Lord, trying to control our tongue is impossible. Not only does our tongue get us into trouble with others and cause hurt feelings, but harsh words and foul language destroy our Christian witness. How will anyone know we serve a loving and gracious God if His followers aren’t demonstrating the same kind of love towards others?
This is one of those situations where the only remedy is to focus first on Christ. We need to recognize what He did for us on the cross, and we need to allow Him to work in our lives to renew our hearts and minds.
Our words will follow our hearts accordingly.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.