Guarding Our Tongues, Part 3

July 26, 2019 at 11:38 AM

The more I read James, the more I realize how important it is to guard our tongues. Of course, as I’ve noted, as seen in Scripture, we guard our tongues by guarding our hearts and minds. What we audibly say is merely a reflection of what is in our hearts. In that sense then if we hear ourselves speaking harsh, hateful words, we’ve already sinned even if those words have not come out of our mouths yet.

Once again, I’m not talking about thoughts that simply move through our minds as we might happen to notice a billboard on the interstate. It’s when we dwell on those thoughts, embellish them, begin a conversation with ourselves about those thoughts that can easily become the problem.

If you’re just picking up this series with this article, I suggest you go back to article 1 and start from there, through article 2. Together, they will show how we got to this point in the series.

In James 4, he discusses the requirement to “tame” the tongue. Interestingly, he does this first by warning that not everyone should seek to be a Bible teacher. I wonder how many today love their vaunted position as a “go-to” teacher, with thousands upon thousands following them and elevating them to a position of near-deity?

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1 ESV)

I recall for a long period of time, I thought God had called me into the pastorate. I even did what I could to get there. Fortunately, my efforts did not result in going into the pastorate. I’ve seen realized that while I’m called to the “ministry” in general (as are all Christians), the actual pastorate is not my calling, at least it hasn’t been. I believe God has gifted me with the ability to write and teach and I use those gifts but there are times I just don’t want to do that any longer. Admittedly, there were times when I thought maybe one of my books will become a “best seller” and won’t that open doors? That was born of ego, not of God.

I’ve fortunately since realized that while my books are fine, I’m actually hoping they don’t have much of an impact until after the Lord takes me home, if then. God will use those books how He sees fit. It’s totally up to Him.

As far as teaching, I thoroughly enjoy it mainly because it keeps me in His Word. It’s also why I write these articles. They are written for me, as a bit of a testimony to what God is doing in my life. If others benefit, great. If not, that’s okay too.

But James insists that pursuing the high calling of teaching is something not many should strive after. Because with it comes tremendous responsibility and James notes teachers will be judged more harshly than non-teachers. If you look at society now, it’s easy to spot the “celebrity” teachers throughout Christendom. Those who resolutely follow these men and women often idolize them. To these people, those teachers can do nothing wrong even when they do teach things that are opposed in Scripture.

Imagine starting out as a teacher at a few Bible conferences. Over time, people hear about you and you are more and more in demand. After a few years, this is not only a full-time job for you, but your books fly off the shelves, you demand higher speaking fees and your non-profit has a budget into the millions each year. Once you’ve gotten that big, you become very careful about what you say so that you don’t offend people. Offending people (with the truth of Scripture), often means reductions in donations. Reductions in donations results in smaller budgets and possibly laying off people.

This is really a trap that Christians need to avoid but too many don’t. It is a perfect example of watching/controlling your tongue in the wrong way, so that the person ends up preaching error to satisfy the itching ears of hearers. It happens way too frequently today. You and I can likely name many people who are well-known examples of heretical teaching solely because their goal has become large crowds, not disseminating actual biblical truth to listeners. They will be judged harshly for this because they are not being truthful.

James states clearly that we are all in the same boat. We all stumble at this or that point. We all fall down. He follows up with the fact that those people who control their tongues (by controlling what they think) are “perfect.” Of course, the word perfect here means complete. They have learned the value of keeping watch over thoughts and words. This is clearly the most difficult part of being a Christian. It really is and if you disagree with that, then I must ask you to read James in its entirety and read it several times, focusing on what James is saying about the tongue.

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body… (James 3:2 ESV)

Think about it. A person who is in total control of their thoughts is also in total control of their tongue. People who allow their minds to have free reign thinking whatever they want to think, will often say whatever they want to say. This person is controlled by his/her thoughts and it comes out in their words and actions.

James then uses several analogies to drive his point home. We all know about how a bit in the horse’s mouth controls that horse. It allows the rider to steer and direct the horse. When used properly, a good horse trainer can make a horse back up or even move sideways. I used to take horse riding lessons when I lived in California. The main woman who owned the horses and facility was phenomenal. People who owned horses and wanted them entered into races and competitions often paid her to sit on their horse for those events. They knew she knew horses so well that the horse soon gained confidence that the rider was in absolute control. A small bit in a horse’s mouth directs the horse.

James then moves onto the fact that a small spark can create a tremendous forest fire (v 5) and he likens this to the tongue creating unrighteousness in the world (v 6).

The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.[ For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (vv 6b-8 ESV).

What an indictment and it’s true! You likely have examples in your own life as I do mine where things have been said that were born of jealously, anger, and hate. After you calmed down, what happened? The Lord was trying to get you to admit your sin, and confess it to Him so that His forgiveness could be applied to you. Moreover, you may have needed to go to another person and confess to them, asking their forgiveness for saying things that were hurtful.

I’ve had to do that and it never feels good, but it is necessary. Just imagine if we never made those mistakes. It’s hard to imagine actually. What James says next is reminiscent of what Jesus taught during His earthly ministry (Matthew 15:11).

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so (vv 9-10 ESV).

Jesus, Paul, James, and Peter among others talk about the need to guard our tongues. This is so important yet it is not something I personally have seriously dealt with in my life consistently. This is changing.

We mentioned previously in article 2 that this is also a good form of resisting the devil. I believe it is and I believe our resistance to the enemy of our souls begins in our hearts and minds. As we resist there by taking control of what we think, Satan is resisted. The Bible says he will eventually flee from us because of that resistance.

So, HOW do we do that? Again, the Bible provides the answer in numerous ways. It all comes down to obedience and obedience happens when we first, know what Scripture says, and second, when we through faith in Christ, apply that Scripture to our lives.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)

Okay, that’s a rule. It’s what God wants us to do. So HOW? This same Paul answers that question for us in Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)

If we are thinking about the things that Paul describes above, how can we also be thinking of evil things? We can’t. It’s impossible, but how do you DO this?

There is only one way that I’m aware of and it is done through the memorization and recitation of God’s Word to ourselves. If we memorize and consider Ephesians 4:29, Philippians 4:8 as well as others from James, and Peter, etc., when the temptation comes to corrupt our thinking and to join in with evil thoughts, God will be able to use these Scripture verses as an act of resistance against the enemy’s placed thoughts inside our hearts and minds. Through practiced use, we should get to a point where we learn to immediately resist the evil thoughts.

Imagine if you woke during the night to hear someone trying to break into your home? Would you go back to sleep? Probably not. You’d likely make a 911 call and prepare yourself in case the person manages to get into your locked home. Only an idiot would choose to not worry about it and by doing so, that person would be actually coordinating with the home invader!

We are often vigilant about home security. Living in the country, I’ve been told that I don’t need to lock my doors. Why would I leave my doors unlocked when I’m not home? Why would I leave doors unlocked when we go to bed at night? It’s not as though things are never stolen from homes in the country. Those people who don’t lock things up are possibly in for a rude awakening.

Not long ago, I may have mentioned in another article that about a mile from us, an intruder walked onto private property and shot one of the two people who lived there. The son was shot in the shoulder, but had the sense to lift his rifle and shoot the intruder as he was trying to run. The intruder was still on the property and was still carrying his weapon. He could’ve easily turned around as he ran and tried to shoot again. No charges were filed because the man was trespassing and had tried to murder at least one person. The intruder died later at the hospital. Turns out he had a very long rap sheet. No one knows why this happened but it happened in the tranquility of the country setting.

Our hearts and minds are fair game for Satan and his minions who never sleep, never need rest and don’t get fatigued from not having eaten. They work all the time and they work against Christians and against God’s will.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).

If we float through life without a concern, we will likely be taken down by the enemy of our souls. He seeks to devour us, to eat us up and spit us out fully defeated. The only real weapon we have against him is the best weapon available: God’s Word. Are you in it? Are you studying it? Are you memorizing it? It’s the only way I know how to fully resist the devil.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , .

Guarding Our Tongues, Part 2 Guarding Our Tongues, Part 4


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