Read James 3:9-11
The tongue runs wild,a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
My friends,this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next,does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries,do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples,do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear,cool water,are you? (THE MESSAGE)
Our words have a great capacity to hurt and to heal. No doubt we can all remember words spoken to us that have caused deep wounds and other words spoken to us that have helped heal those wounds. Our speech can do this because our speech reflects the mixed character we have. We have potential to bless the spirits of others and the potential to break their hearts.
James reminds us that it is not enough to simply ‘bite our tongue’. It goes deeper to an issue of reforming our character. Our words do not just spring spontaneously from our mouths: they come from our hearts.
One aspect of this is worth considering: the tendency to speak negativity. “It will never work”. “I give up.” “This is hopeless”. These words reflect a deep defeatism within us,a sense of failure and despondency. While it is not enough to simply stop saying those things (because our words reflect deeper attitudes),the repeated saying of them does have an adverse effect on ourselves and others.
They reinforce our worst tendencies. They can cause others to lose hope.
There is a time to realistically face sad reality. But we need to take care that we don’t spend so much time and energy expressing it that we reinforce our own fears and provoke fear in others. Disciplining our speech won’t in itself reform our inner brokenness,but it can help prevent the brokenness getting even worse.