James 3:9-10: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and wtih it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be." (TNIV)
James says the tongue, which symbolizes our speech, is
1) a small part of the body that makes great boasts (v. 5)
2) a fire (v. 6)
3) a world of evil (v. 6)
4) corrupt (v. 6)
5) set on fire by hell (v. 6)
6) untameable (v. 8)
7) restless, evil (v. 8)
8) full of deadly poison (v. 8)
9) duplicitous (v. 9-12)
Shouldn't this scare us? Shouldn't this cause us to be so careful about what comes out of our mouths? Knowing that the minute I open my mouth, I could cause evil, corruption and spread deadly poison, I should intend to keep my mouth shut as much as possible. Remember verse 19 that says, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry"?
1. Think of a time when your words hurt someone. Was it because you didn't think before you spoke? Was it intentional? Was it because you didn't listen? Was it because you couldn't keep your mouth shut?
2. Have you found yourself saying words to intentionally hurt someone? When we retaliate with our words, we only make things worse. Take those words to God and ask Him to replace them with words of forgiveness and healing.
3. When you talk negatively about someone, it causes you to think negatively of that person. The more negative thoughts you have, the more negative speech you have. It becomes a cycle. Try speaking positively of the people who rub you the wrong way. Remember Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
4. James 3 talks about how such a small part of the body "corrupts the whole person [and] sets the whole course of his life on fire." What comes to mind when you think of this? What do you think James means?
Listen to yourself this week. Pay attention to your tone of voice and the specific words that you use. Notice the difference in how you speak to your family members vs. perfect strangers. If you notice a negative speech pattern, whether it's gossip, cussing, speaking negatively, rudeness, sarcasm or whining and complaining, write it down. Put it somewhere you will see it so you will remember to pray for God to remove it from your mouth.