To start off, lets read James 3:1-12. The theme of the second paragraph of this passage is the biggest take-away from this lesson. This paragraph illustrates how HUGE things can be completely controlled by something small. James uses the example of how a horse can be completely controlled simply by a the bit we put in it’s mouth. Also think of huge ship, which is completely controlled by a small rudder. This is exactly the power that our tongue can have over us. It can completely corrupt us and corrupt what other people see in us as Christians.
There is more to what James is saying than simply “Don’t say bad words”. The words that come out of your mouth have the power to completely consume someone else’s thoughts. This means you can speak negatively, casting out discouragements, complaints, and negativity, or you can speak positively. (See James 3:9) When we speak negatively, our tongue has been set on fire by hell according to verse 6. Think about the last time someone said something to you that offended you. That is something that is not easily forgotten, because the tongue has great power. James portrays it as a disastrous forest fire that is set ablaze by a single small spark.
So how do we gain control over our tongue to prevent the “hell-fire” from coming out of it? Well take a look at verses 7&8. This almost comes across as hopeless, like we are born to speak evil from our tongue. Now take a look at verse 2, which again says that any man who is not at fault for the words that he speaks is a perfect person who is able to control every part of his body. Once again, we know this is not the case. We are not perfect. We are broken people. This is the why we cannot gain complete control over our tongue, because we all sin. There is hope though. Think about the reason why we normally speak discouragements and negativity. Mostly it stems from the fact that we are trying to bring other people down, so that we can raise ourselves higher above them. This is why there is more to controlling your tongue than simply cutting out “bad-words”. We have to watch our heart as well as our tongue. Our prayer should be to ask God to show us that we don’t need to raise ourselves up. We are called to raise others up with encouragements, and bring glory to GOD! Yet we strive to bring glory to ourselves with our tongue. Ask God to make you aware of this, so that you might use your tongue for bringing God glory instead of yourself.