Day 5

Controlling the Tongue

from the James reading plan


James 3:1-12, Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 12, Matthew 12:36-37

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Scripture Reading: James 3:1-12, Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 12, Matthew 12:36-37

The idea of “controlling the tongue” is not just religious-speak to me. It is not just a heading in my Bible or a topic that generates good, honest conversation at a Bible study. It is one of the most sincere prayers of my heart and one of the darkest manifestations of my sin.

Especially since becoming a mother, I’ve realized my words have the power to give life and hope or to steal them away. I’ll never forget the look in my young daughter’s eyes the first time I tossed sharp, careless words at her like a grenade and saw her wince at the explosion. I surrendered my tongue and its words to the Lord that day, and I’ve surrendered them countless times since.

In chapter 3, James describes the tongue as the epitome of hypocrisy. “With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9). And here’s the kicker: We are all guilty of this—every one of us, in every phase of life.

James does not give us a tidy “how-to” at the end of this passage, no foolproof answer for ending this struggle which takes place in each of us. Instead, he provides one analogy after the other, illustrating the way our words can bring life and direction, or death and destruction.

“So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest” (v. 5).

Our words have more power than we usually care to acknowledge. If we knewreally knewthe weight our words carry in each person who receives them, how would that change what we say? Would the flames of hypocrisy overcome us if we could see the fires we spark?

This forthright passage from James should bring us to our knees. Our struggle to control our tongues and rein in our thoughts should cause us to plead to the Father for wisdom in how to honor Him and build up others with our words. This is just what James encourages us to do in the first chapter of his letter:

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Praise God that He hears us!

Just as grace pours into the darkest parts of our hearts, igniting the hope of the gospel, so does His grace pour over the fires we start with our words. The hope of Jesus and the forgiveness of the Father extend to this place, too. As a woman who’s flung more sparks than I care to admit, I am so incredibly thankful.

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Post Comments (92)

92 thoughts on "Controlling the Tongue"

  1. Abbey Byrd says:

    I’m guilty of using my words to inflict pain or assert my “power”…. I’ve practiced this from a young age. Taking something so practiced is a difficult thing but by Gods Grace I’ve gotten so much better about this. I do still struggle with idle words, joking insults, sarcasm…. Lord if I cannot tame my tongue I need you to transform my heart so deeply that what is poured out on my tongue comes from your work of grace in my life. In Jesus name, Amen

  2. Steph C says:

    “But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8). Oh how I must strive to discipline my tongue! My words reveal what is in my heart – anger, complaint, love, rejoicing, etc. What do my words reveal about me? When I’m tired? When I’m sick? When I’m discouraged? Too often I speak thoughtlessly. It’s out in a second, and how I wish I could retract it. All I can do is confess it, committing my words to God, and praying for His grace to guide my words. Let my words bring hope, health, encouragement … not cutting down and destroying others.

  3. Maiya Howard says:

    Wow wow wow…every time to read this chapter of James, I am ever grateful for the the grace of mercy of God. My mouth has been known to be a strength and weakness of mine. I k kw that my tongue needs to be tamed, and only God can do that for me, as long as I allow Him to do so

  4. Bethanie Jones says:

    I actually just came to the end of the James study and skipped over this day because I didn’t feel like it was exactly needed for my life at that moment. But wow SO SO misjudged on my part. So tonight as I went back into the SRT app to start a new plan I saw that the James plan wasn’t finished… This lesson didn’t have a check next to it.

    I’m was in a place where I needed to read this but I realized: I will always be in a place that needs this truth. Our tongues need taming every moment of every day. We have been entrusted with so much power in how we use them… and wow how much I can forget that.

  5. Beth Harper says:

    It’s very interesting having a visualization, flames, to picture what kind of destruction words can actually do in the world. I pray daily to be convicted of this particular sin and for God to give me his eyes. Break my heart for what breaks his. It’s so much easier to see joy and good in the world when we see it through the lens of a Christ-like mindset. Thanks for such an awesome community of women to grow in the Word with!

  6. Tanyah Hope says:

    Sooo many things to work on and my tongue is defiantly a huge one. God give me grace to speak with loving and encouraging words.

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