(2) 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. (8) But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:2, 8
Most of us don’t consider out tongues to be full of deadly poison. Makes me think of the spitting cobra. Ever seen one? They can spit venom almost 7 feet into the eyes of their prey in order to disable and move in for the kill. We don’t see our words as deadly poison, used to ‘move in for the kill’.
If you don’t think your tongue is full of deadly poison, consider if you do any of these three things:
1. Do you speak rashly? (Pro. 12:18, 29:20)
Do you talk without really considering what you are saying? Ever just ‘fire away’ without considering just what you are saying, and whether or not it needs to be said?
2. Do you talk too much?
“Where words are many, transgression is not lacking.” The more you talk, the more odds are your words are full of deadly poison. This is why not many of us should desire to be teachers (3:1). Consider whether or not the things you are saying really need to be said or not. Could you talk less to others and talk more to Jesus?
3. Are you regularly snared by your words? (Pro. 6:2-5)
Some of us are notorious for making promises we cannot keep, leading to disagreement between friends. Do you find yourself saying regularly, “I wish I hadn’t said that”?
Mind you, these are just three questions to ask. We could ask 30 more maybe. How did you score? I’m 0-3. When we look at what the scriptures say about things like our tongues, it is easy to despair. We think, “There is no way I can change.”
This is when we are either driven to try harder or we’re comforted by Jesus and drawn to worship him more. He is the true Word become flesh (Jn. 1:1-18). Christ has loved us and died for sin knowing we would spit deadly venom from our mouths. The resurrection reminds us that there is victory over sin and death in Jesus, not shame and defeat. As you are reminded that your words matter, remember that in Christ, our words don’t matter as much as the true Word, Jesus, dying for our sin and giving us his righteousness. This will lead us to a true change of heart and worship of Jesus.
For further study: Eph. 4:15-29, Jn. 1:1-18, Pro. 12:18, 29:20, 6:2-5, 16: 21, 23, 24, 28, Phil 2:14