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Bible verses about Control of Tongue
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 59:12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Proud people also possess an unruly tongue that curses, lies, and offends. This complements Psalm 10:2 in that a proud person may not have the opportunity to "run over" somebody in business, but every proud person can boldly or carelessly run over others with his tongue.

Some people are abrupt, abusive, harsh, and overbearing with their tongue. Even though they may not physically attack other people, they leave them emotionally abused. Some complain ceaselessly, spreading a pall of negativism that makes others want to avoid them. Neither harshness nor negativism promotes oneness. We need to study how God says to use the tongue, but the cause of offenses that separate us is almost invariably inconsiderate, self-centered pride producing its divisive fruit through the tongue.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

James 1:19-20   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God wants us to be quick and ready to hear Him and His truth. As disciples of Christ, we should always remember that we are engaged in learning from God the Father and Jesus Christ, and a good attitude is paramount in getting the most out of our lessons.

Being "slow to wrath" is learning to restrain our tempers and any wrong attitudes. Those that allow anger to trouble them have the tendency to break the law rather than keep it and to contend with ministers and brethren. When one allows wrath or a poor attitude into his thinking, doubts about God's instructions creep in, and disobedience often results. The wrath of man will not produce the right course of life and love of the truth that God requires.

The person who jumps to angry conclusions is often one who hears God's Word from the Bible but finds that it does not fit with his thinking or background. For whatever reason, he initially rejects what he hears. This is a hasty attitude, and it is one God does not like.

» Proverbs 14:29: He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive [hasty of spirit, KJV] exalts folly.
» Proverbs 21:5: The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
» Proverbs 29:20: Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than for him.
» Ecclesiastes 5:2: Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on the earth; therefore let your words be few.

God understands the changes demanded of us by our calling. He knows our backgrounds and that we have much to learn in following His way. He knows some conflicts will catch us off guard; there will be times when it comes down to His way versus our way.

John O. Reid
Having a Right Attitude


 

James 1:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Putting a bridle on our tongue is absolutely essential because a liar is not merely deceived. Each additional lie gets him in deeper and deeper until he loses track and believes his own lies. He tells them or lives them so often that, like an alcoholic, he loses his grip on reality. Each lie adds to the difficulty of changing for the better. If it continues, the person becomes addicted to it as a way of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

James 3:3-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

James makes three interesting comparisons. First, the horse has historically been considered symbolic of strength, endurance, speed, gracefulness, agility, beauty, and loyalty. At certain times in history, men have preferred to be buried next to their horses rather than their wives! How many countless times has the horse been the deciding factor in battle, in travel, in survival? Yet this powerful animal can be rendered as docile as a puppy by placing a small bit in its mouth, through which it learns to obey every command its master might give it.

Second, the wind drives and tosses giant ships on the seas as if they were toys. Wind, especially at sea, evokes the fierceness of war, raging into every crevice and overturning everything in its path. Calm it down, however, and it becomes a gentle, cooling, refreshing breeze. Gentle winds can bring pleasant fragrances and invigorating fresh air. Having grown up near the Pacific Ocean, nothing quite stirs me like a fresh wind off the sea. Words, like wind, can be unbelievable forces of destruction that leave nothing and no one standing in their paths. But tamed, slowed down, and controlled, they can be refreshing, fragrant breezes across our faces.

Third, rudders manipulate the course of immense ocean vessels with a slight movement of a pilot's hand. Since it is underwater and aft, the rudder of a ship does its work unseen. A passenger is ignorant of its movements most of the time. Yet, when it is in proper working order, the rudder holds more power over the ship than the wind. The wind will blow, toss, even destroy the ship's rigging, but the rudder guides the ship exactly where it directs. James wants us to contemplate—as horses are controlled by bits in the mouth and ships by rudders below the stern—what tools we might use to control our words, which can be as dynamic as a horse or fierce as the wind. Learning to use that bit and rudder is the challenge!

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:5-6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

James warns that the size of the tongue is no measure of the power it wields. Just as the tiniest of sparks can ignite a great forest fire, the smallest of words, unwisely spoken, can cause immeasurable harm.

Uncontrolled and untamed, without interference, a fire can spread to leave absolutely nothing untouched, unscorched, and unaffected. It is startling to think that fire, of itself, could erase all life from the earth! Were it to burn and spread unaffected by rain, wind, or the efforts of man, it could conceivably cover the earth and burn all life and all oxygen from our world.

Anyone who has witnessed a forest fire and seen flames leap from one treetop to another can grasp the traveling power of fire. James wants us to capture this graphic vision of the potential destruction our words perpetuated in sin can achieve. The iniquity created and perpetuated by words can spread to the ultimate of all damages: death. Solomon writes, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Proverbs 18:21). Does man have any other ability that can cause such a degree of devastation?

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:7-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

James finishes his description of the tongue by comparing it to the most ferocious beasts, the most lethal aerial predators, the most deadly reptiles, the most frightening sea creatures—and concluding none of them are a match for the savagery of the tongue!

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:11-12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In examining ourselves, perhaps the critical question is, "How much salt can be in the water before it tastes salty?" If our words hurt or cut others down only on occasion, does that make us guilty of all that James describes? How much confidence would we have in the kitchen faucet if we never knew whether we would receive salt water or fresh water from it? Would we fill a glass and drink it down or carefully test it each time?

When I was in school, a common practical joke was to dump salt in someone's milk or water, watch him unsuspectingly drink it down and chortle gleefully when the shock emerged on his face as he discovered what he had just consumed. When it happened to me, it was indeed a shock! No matter how many times I had watched it done to another, or participated in doing it, or how hard I laughed at another's "getting it," when my turn for a "salting" took place, it was totally unexpected and entirely unpleasant.

It happens like this in our relationships. We expect to trust one another, and we expect the "waters" of our words to be refreshing, to be pleasant, to be loving and positive. When we are hit with the "salt"—words spoken in anger, gossip, merciless criticism, or caustic sarcasm toward us when we may need some kinder attention—it is always a shock and always leaves us feeling distaste in our mouths and betrayal in our hearts.

All of us are capable of all these kinds of communication. We have to ask ourselves: Do I send both fresh and bitter water from my mouth? Does my tongue produce both figs and olives?

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:14-16   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

I like to tell stories, and my family has told me more than once that I sometimes exaggerate things. I always justified it as good humor and in fun. I have come to learn, however, the exaggerations, boasts, or little white lies that "spice up" stories or humor can often hurt and damage others. Sometimes someone hearing the story remembers the situation, and it was not as funny or, from his perspective, happened some other way.

Boasting is usually successful only when another is put down, and though everyone may laugh, the victim may be recoiling from what feels like jabs and insults. Sarcasm and teasing often produce the same results. James refers to boasting and lying as assaults against the truth. One may not realize how true this is until he feels the sting of sarcasm directed toward him. I love to tease and be teased, but I am realizing increasingly that people can become carried away in their words, violate the truth, and do severe damage.

An old saying runs, "Everyone loves a clown but no one wants to be his best friend." Laughter helps people to relax and bond more closely together in shared experiences, but it is good to learn to look around to see if someone is no longer laughing. Many years ago, a dinner party with several good friends also included a minister and his wife who had just been transferred to our city. It was our first occasion to dine with them, and it was a very pleasant evening. Most of us, knowing each other well, had a long evening teasing, joking, laughing, and putting each other down. We never noticed anything amiss with the new guests.

The next week at church, however, we heard a sermon about the damages of put-down humor and how it has absolutely no place in a Christian's lifestyle. The new minister talked about how even the most subtle humor can tear relationships down and cause doubts about another's affection or respect. Such humor includes referring to one's wife as "the old ball and chain" or "the biscuit-burner." Such names and teasing—as "good fun" as they may seem—diminish our friends and family, do not express the kind affection we really feel for them, are not true, and thus are lies. A Christian should never lie, not even in fun. All of us were shame-faced and sorry we had left such a negative impression, and we apologized to him, his wife and to each other.

Test: Are we teasing and boasting to another's pleasure or his discomfort? Is it true and factual? If it is not, it is a lie, and no matter how funny it is, it is sin. Sarcasm belongs in the same category: If it is not true, it is a lie. Even if it is true, how are we expressing it? Does sarcasm express love, gentleness, peace, and mercy? Can we tease one another righteously? I would like to think so, but I am still working on learning how. Without God's Spirit guiding our words, our tongues remain subtle, merciless, and destructive weapons.

James concludes by telling us directly that these forms of speaking are not godly wisdom, but "earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there" (verses 15-16). The fallout from communication based on our human, selfish motivations is evident about us. The state of the world and the way it functions are often actions and reactions of crushing blows of words. Governments, businesses, sports teams, even schools, churches, and neighborhoods communicate with each other in wars of words. Our world—this "Information Age"—is practically devoid of godly, righteous speech, relying on the sensual, material, selfish pursuits that drive Satan himself. How much does it affect us and our communications with one another?

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)


 

 




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