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, verses 7-8.
The tongue is full of deadly poison. Imagine that. Don’t believe me?
What about all the hateful things that kids say to each other? Have you seriously considered what kids say, how vicious it can be? I go back and forth on how to deal with it – self-esteem encouragement or put them down hard – but one thing is certain: bullies are mean. It’s a hateful thing to bully someone, and ally bullying starts with words. Words lead to fists, intimidation and more. Or what about those “Mean Girls,” who are nothing more than bullies in makeup and heels. I’ve raised two girls and have seen time and again how vicious girls can be to each other, usually by way of cheap talk.
Or what about political invective? Elections in the last 10-15 years have become blood sport. Perhaps they always were and I simply didn’t notice, but it seems that our political rhetoric has become more and more personal, and more and more full of poison. You can’t just be against what the other guy is for. No, both sides seek to paint the other as Satan incarnate, smearing and sliming opponents with verbal half-truths (or blatant lies) and virulent greed.
Yet things were no different in James’ time. He saw what slander, lies, politics, and hatred had done to his brother, who was God Immanuel. Nothing the Jewish elders did or said about Jesus was even remotely true, yet they convinced the complicit and too-willing Romans to execute Him: because of the spoken word. Before his own untimely and horrific death, James saw or heard of how his brother apostles were murdered and martyred for what they believed: all because of things spoken against them.
Is it any wonder, then, that James would call the tongue a restless evil, full of deadly poison? James echoes what Jesus said when He said that it is what is in our hearts that makes us sinful. We simply say what we’re already thinking, or already desire, and the desire takes on twisted life. “Just one more drink.” “Hey, you’re pretty.” “But what about…” “I hate you.” You get the drift.
And if you get the drift, I’m hoping you get James’ message that the tongue is a dangerous thing indeed. We can tame dogs, cats, cows, horses, even lions and tigers and bears (oh my). None of them, however, is as dangerous as an unwound tongue venting the innermost thoughts of a fallen soul.
Lord, forgive me for when I’ve not tamed my tongue. Speak through me and teach me to model what You say instead.
Have you ever said anything vicious?
Do you think the tongue is a restless evil?
What can you do to change?