As you can imagine, the rest of the evening didn’t go well.
Do you ever wish you had a fish line attached to your words that you could reel back in? I do.
Last week in Middle School we looked at James 3 and talked about managing our words in our relationships with our siblings. But honestly, it’s a topic that applies to any of our relationships.
Why would we want to learn to manage our words? God gives us several motivations as to why we would want to manage our mouths. Let me share with you some of those:
Motivation #1: Self-control begins with mouth-control. James 3:2 says, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” Wow, that means that if you and I learn to manage what we say, it will be a catalyst for self-control in many other areas of our lives. Learning to manage our words is an incredibly worthwhile investment!
Motivation #2: Your words set the course for your life direction. James 3:3-4 says, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.” A small bit controls the direction of a large horse, and a rudder that weighs less than one-half of 1% of a boat directs the direction of a cruise ship. It’s absolutely amazing to me how small objects control much larger ones! Likewise, the way we use our “tongue” controls the course of our life, for both good and bad.
Motivation #3: Your words can destroy what is most precious to you. As I learned that night with Beckie, words can cause a lot of damage, especially to the ones you love most dearly. James 3:5 says, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” There have been countless times where I have had to go to back to my wife or kids and apologize for the damage I did to them because of my words.
Given all this, why is it so hard to control our words? James goes on to say that we have managed to tame animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures (go to any zoo for evidence), but we have the hardest time taming our tongue!
Perhaps we have the wrong focus. James goes on in verses 11-12 to explain that a salt-water spring can’t produce fresh water. A fig tree can’t produce olives. And a grapevine can’t produce figs. What we learn here is that the problem isn’t our words – that’s the wrong focus. The problem is the source from which they come.
Changed words come from a changed heart. The problem is our heart. Our words reveal what’s within us. Jesus says in Matthew 12:34 "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."
So, let’s make a deal. The next time unsavory words come from our mouths, let’s pause and ask, “God, what does this say about my heart right now?” Then after He reveals that to us, let’s join King David in his wonderful prayer from Psalm 51:10 and pray, “Create in me a pure heart, O God." Ask God to change your heart, and watch Him use the fruit of your words in profoundly powerful ways to bless and encourage others.