by Pastor Tim Burt
One day my four young children were waiting for me to come home from work. They all greeted me at the door with hugs and just a spark more excitement than was usual. I thought it was about me until the children’s spokesperson—their mother, entered into the room. They had a group request. Honey, one of the kids in Jeffrey’s class brought a kitten to show-and-tell today. They are looking for a family to give it to. It’s really cute! They are wondering if we could have a kitten.
I must have really been tired because I did something I don’t usually do. I caved in immediately and said Yes. I had never had a cat before. I grew up in a dog family. I knew nothing about cats. What a shock it was to learn how unusual cats are. Although I’m sure there are a few exceptions in the world, I quickly learned that cats, for the most part, don’t train easily if at all—at least compared to a dog. Cats seem to have a mind of their own. They do what they want, when they want. In that regard, cats remind me of the tongue—you know, that waggling little creature in your mouth that wants to say what it wants to say when it wants to say it!
James 3:8-11 NIV reveals a profound truth. “… no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”
You know how it is. You’ve probably thought about it many times. You know you shouldn’t use your tongue—your words to tear down or speak against others. We find ourselves blessing others—saying kind things to someone’s face, only to later say inappropriate things about them to others later. People with a conscience hate that they do that. We find out that the Word of God is true. “…No man can tame the tongue.”
James 3:3-6 NIV tells us more about this untamable thing. It says, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” “…No man can tame the tongue.”
If this is true, if no man can truly tame the tongue, then what are we supposed to do? The first step is to recognize this truth and come to grips with it. You can’t fix your tongue yourself. God is not lying when He says “…no man can tame the tongue.” That includes you and me. At the same time we have to realize that God is not setting us up to fail. The answer in taming the tongue is recognizing that only with the help of the Holy Spirit can you tame the tongue. The Holy Spirit will help you tame your tongue through a number of ways. I’ll touch on two of them today.
First pray that God, through His Holy Spirit, will give you a revelation of the truth of this verse. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” You will know when you’ve received the revelation of this verse from God. That revelation will put a reverential fear of the Lord in you. By that I mean that you will understand that your tongue can be used by God to be one of the greatest instruments of blessing in your life, or, a poison that will hurt your character, hinder your promotion and success, and will destroy the favor with people that God promises to those that love Him. Your tongue will contribute to your maturity and advancement or it will tear down others, ultimately tearing down you. This word from God says that “we will eat” from the fruit of our Words. Your words have everything to do with how you will experience life. Your mind can’t take a hold of that but your spirit can. Let the Holy Spirit reveal this truth to you.
A second step in letting the Holy Spirit help you tame your tongue is asking God to help you hear what you are saying. Once you can truly hear yourself, you’ll be shocked by the number of negative things that come out of our mouth!
You’ll hear yourself say things like My boss is never going to change! I’m stuck with this situation and there is nothing I can do about it. I’ll never get a raise or a promotion. She has something against me. I am never going to get into a good relationship. Everyone I seem to like is taken! All the good ones are taken. I’ll always be lonely! You watch, I bet I’m the best one to catch the flu and a cold this year. Nothing good ever happens to me.
Your tongue speaks more doubt and unbelief about the present and future than you can imagine. Words like this reveal that this is your thinking. This is what is in your heart. What is in your heart not only influences others and situations, but also influences the health of your body! We need to guard our hearts by speaking right words. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Again, that is true whether you believe it or not. Your mouth is the barometer of your heart. And an indicator of what your body is going to experience.
God is trying to teach you to have faith in Him and speak words of faith and life. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the power of Words. Then listen to what you say. You will become dependent upon and have to pause and lean on the Lord for the words you should speak. When you do, it becomes the start of a powerful new life and supernatural change!
Ephesians 4:29 NIV “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may impart grace to those who listen.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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