Is your Tongue out of Control?
It has been said that the tongue is one of
the most exercised muscles of our body. It has been estimated that in a typical week, the
average person will speak enough words to fill a 500 page book! However, for the
Christian, the use of the tongue must be a matter of careful forethought and discipline.
The Bible warns that believers who do not bring restraint to their tongue and speech have
been deceived and without such control over their words, their religious acts are
worthless and hypocritical. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not
bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this ones religion is useless
(James 1:26). It is a deception for any of us to think that Jesus can be Lord over our
life, without also becoming Lord over our tongue.
The reference to a bridle in the
previous verse is the leather harness and bit placed in a horses mouth to control
it. In the same manner, Christians must allow the Holy Spirit to bridle their tongue, and
bring restraint to their words. David used a similar device as a metaphor to describe his
tight control on his mouth to avoid sinning with his tongue, especially when the ungodly
were around, where its easy to develop a critical tongue, or pick up their bad
tongue habits, such as profanity. I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I
will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me (Psalms 39:1).
Hypocrisy of the Tongue
Elsewhere, James gave a warning of the evil
poison of the tongue. He described some who try to use their tongue as praise and blessing
to God, then turn around to use their tongue to speak evil of one another. With it
we bless our God and Father, and with it rue curse men, who have been made in the
similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these
things ought not to be so (James 3:9-10). We cannot use our tongue to curse and
bad-mouth our brethren, then continue business as usual with our relationship
with God. The Bible says that such tongue behavior is characteristic of hypocrites.
The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor... (Prov. 11:9).
Along this same vein, the psalmist warned that
the wicked who use their mouth for evil and who speak against their brethren, violate the
sacredness of Gods covenant and forfeit their right to use that same mouth as a
vessel of Gods Holy Word and promise. Paraphrased, the passage says, What
right do you have to use your mouth to declare my word and promises? You have used your
mouth for evil and deceitfulness, to bad-mouth and slander your brethren (Psa.
Mouth Sins Are Not Trivial
Unfortunately, mouth sins have somehow been
domesticated and entertained by the modern church. Gossip, backbiting, and slander have
become viewed as naughty little habits that arent really so serious.
However, when Paul wrote to the church at Rome he sternly contended that gossips,
slanderers, and bad-mouthers were in the same league as murderers, sexual perverts, and
haters of God. Furthermore, he said such sins are worthy of a death sentence (Rom.
Some believers have experienced problems and
misfortune, or fail to get answers to their prayers, because of their mouth sins. Using
their tongue to ridicule, gossip about, or to slander their brothers and sisters is
clearly sin and as we know, unrepentant sin cuts off the flow of Gods answers
to their prayers. If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear
(Psa 66:18). Those who have mouth problems are destined to experience much trouble in
their life and will not find it easy to obtain Gods help with their problems. Satan
takes advantage of those whose mouths are undisciplined and that are used wickedly.
Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles (Prov.
The Bible teaches that they who desire to
dwell in the presence of God, to experience His blessings, are those who will live
righteously and who will not backbite or badmouth their neighbor. LORD, who may
abide in Your tabernacle a Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, And
works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his
tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his
friend (Psa. 15:1-3). Furthermore, God promises a long, blessed life to those who
keep their tongue from evil. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days,
that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit
Accountable For All Our Words
Jesus warned that our words are so important
that they will actually determine our condemnation or justification. He said we will be
held responsible for all our words, even our careless, idle words. But I say to you
that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of
judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be
condemned (Matt. 12:36-37).
Elsewhere, Paul cautioned believers to
disallow any corrupt or worthless talk to come from our mouth. Only those things which
lift-up, encourage, and are gracious should be expressed to others. Let no corrupt
word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may
impart grace to the hearers (Eph. 4:29).
Obscenities, profanity, cursing, dirty jokes,
or making fun of others is not something that should ever be found in the mouth of a
believer. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are
out of place, but rather thanksgiving (Eph. 5:4 NIV).
Confess and Forsake Sin
Thank God there is a remedy for mouth sins.
His grace and forgiveness is available for all manner of sin, whatever it may be. Jesus
will forgive all sins that we confess to Him (1 John 1:9) but we must also
forsake them. He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever
confesses and forsakes them will have mercy (Prov. 28:13).
The scriptures tell us to repent
of sin (Rev. 3:19), that is to turn away from sinful behavior. True repentance
means that we will make every effort not to repeat our former sins and will seek to walk
in the nature of Christ. Since mouth sins really originate in the heart (Matt. 12:34),
repentance requires a change of attitude within. Such was Davids desire in his
repentant prayer. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, 0 God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psa.
If you realize that your tongue is out of control, seek His forgiveness and allow Him to change the attitude of your heart and your mouth, so they will be pleasing to Him. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, 0 LORD, my strength and my Redeemer (Psa. 19:14).