James 3: 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.
The beginning of the third chapter of James is often entitled “Taming the Tongue”. The first twelve verses all address the issue of the tongue and the words that come out of our mouth. I can tell you that I regret many things that have come out of my mouth in my lifetime. Some were just naively stupid like when I was younger and I asked a lady in the hospital when she was expecting to have her baby, when in fact she had delivered it a couple days ago (who knew it took some mothers a while for their stomach to come back down?!) Other things that have come out of my mouth in my lifetime have been unhelpful, unwise, insensitive and even intentionally hurting or cruel. I completely understand James when he says that: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8).
In many ways I am very fortunate that I am not a celebrity of any sort. None of the stupid things I have said over the years are recorded or documented. Professional athletes are not quite so lucky. I read an article in TheSportster called the “Top 25 Dumbest Things Athletes Have Ever Said”. Some of these are quite funny like Alan Minter, a former Middleweight Boxing Champion, who responded to the assertion that boxing is a dangerous and barbaric sport. “Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing – but none of them serious,” said Minter. Or how about New Orleans Saints running back George Rogers who when asked what his goals were for the upcoming season replied: “I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.”. Sometimes the words out of athletes’ mouths can be far less innocent though. A quick search on golfers Sergio Garcia versus Tiger Woods can provide you with many examples.
How about you? What words come out of your mouth? Jesus said: “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36). Perhaps our words are documented after all.
I heard a pastor once preach that we should ask ourselves four things before we speak about something or someone. Is it true? Is it confidential? Is it kind? Is it helpful? I think if we took the time to consider those questions, we would be less likely to cause offense from our communication. This is especially true in today’s world of social media. An unkind post, or a hurtful picture is no different than the venom that can come from our speech.
I love the words that the Apostle Luke penned regarding this subject because I believe it gets to the core of the issue – our heart. “For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45b). If you are having trouble taming your tongue, it is a heart issue and you need to pray through it, and perhaps get some counseling, to get to the root of it. You need to confess it (1 John 1: 8-9) and ask God to help you get rid of it from your life, for you are a new creation in Christ, “the old is gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).