The tongue is the most powerful part of the human body. Obviously it helps us breakdown and taste food but also helps to talk, spit, swallow and even kiss.
According to the bible taming the tongue is one thing that EVERYONE struggles with. I’m going to repeat that because this is a big deal: EVERYONE struggles with taming the tongue.
It is interesting because we know while some people struggle with alcohol abuse others do not. Some struggle with lust/pornography addictions, others do not. Some struggle with pride, some with envy, some with lying, some with drugs, some with self-centeredness, some with anger,… but EVERYONE struggles with what comes out of their mouth. Don’t take my word for it, look at James chapter 3:2
For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
We are going to look further at James chapter 3, but first 5 fun facts about the tongue:
1) Tongueprints, which are actual tongue imprints, are as inimitable and unique as fingerprints and could be used in the same way to identify and distinguish every person in the whole world. Everyone differs in the size, shape, and number of taste buds.
2) The average person speaks 12,000 sentences a day, with an average of 50,000 words. If we were to put all these words on paper it would be enough to write a 150 page novel every single day.
3) When you go to the doctor often one of the first things they will have you do is open your mouth and say “ahhhhh”. Why? So they can examine your tongue. The color of the tongue can tell a lot about a person’s health.
Typically: Pink Tongue = Good Health; Yellow Tongue = Stomach Problem or Fever; White Tongue = Fungal Infection.
4) The tongue has a really really rough texture. Maybe not as rough as a cat, but next time you are kissing someone take note of the rough texture of the tongue. You will notice most when you compare it to the smooth texture of lips or the skin of ear lobes.
5)Everyone that remembers their biology class diagrams probably remembers those tongue maps that show how you can taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami are different parts of the tongue. Despite the popularity of these pictures, this is largely rubbish. Most people can taste all different types relatively equally across the tongue. LiveScience confirms this but just in case you don’t believe me, you can put it to the test. The front of your tongue is supposed to be used for detecting sweetness… put some salt on the “sweet” receptor and see what happens. Taste salty? So much for that myth. See ya!
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
James starts off with a warning. Why? He is not discouraging people from spreading or teaching the gospel. He just wants to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. If you are doing it for popularity or to make yourself look better in front of others, you are doing it for all the wrong reasons. You will be judged more strictly for these teachings than any other way you use the tongue.
The second verse just confirms what I first said about the tongue being the impossible part to control.
It’s crazy that this 3 inch piece of muscle can control our whole lives! Actually, I guess it makes sense.
Look at James 3:3-4
We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.
In a same way the tongue guides, shapes, and directs the course of our life.
Let’s continue, James 3:5-6
In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
Whoa! Intense words at the end there. But completely accurate and perfect analogy. Think about it. Like a single spark that causes a forest fire, the same thing can happen in our lives. A single white lie can grow and expand until it becomes full-fledged deceit. A harsh word or comment towards a friends can cause a fight that leads to alienation or even a new enemy. A small piece of gossip you start (or help spread) can build momentum like a snowball until like an avalanche it come crashing down on the person whom it centers upon, wrecking havoc on their life.
Let’s reemphasize why it is so important to focus on the tongue each and everyday. Read James 3:7-8
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
Poison! Another great analogy. Why do people use poison rather than a machete or machine gun to kill someone. Because poison is subtle.
In the same way, we often don’t realize the subtle power our words have over people and on ourselves.
And finally, check out James 3:9-12
Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
Isn’t it crazy that out of the same mouth (and with the same tongue), we praise our heavenly Father and slander people created in HIS image. Think about that the next time you want to make fun of the way someone looks. They were created in the image of GOD! How dare you slander His creation, let alone the creation made in His image.
The takeaway message:
Don’t be discouraged by the fact that the tongue is untamable. Rather, know that through the power of Christ we can strive to become masters of the tongue. Focus daily on your words and how you are using them.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:37:
For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
At the end of time, everyone will be accountable for every word they said. Knowing this is a great reminder for me to guard my tongue and follow after the wise words of James 1:19:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.