"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
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. 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." James 3:1-12
I know that I have read this passage before but I am amazed at how new, fresh and modern it seems today - the description of our wild tongues is so true.
First of all, "we all stumble in many ways" - we are all sinners both in action and in word. I have struggled with a terrible temper for my entire life and I lash out saying things that I do not mean and things that I later regret. So, this topic "taming your tongue" is not something that I have mastered - I am still working on it.
What we say; the topic or the content of our talk is the most important part when learning to tame your tongue. If the content of your speaking is always Christ-like, then our tongue will never be "full of deadly poison." However, timing, tone, translation and twisting can turn every word into an out-of-control wildfire.
The tongue lashes out and reacts instead of responds. Responding requires the use of our mind first, before the use of our tongue. A reaction is an act or word without thought. Take the time to think before you speak.
There might be times when you need to confront someone about a problem - you don't want a crowd around while doing this - you want to pick a time when it is one on one, just you & that other person. On the other hand, there might be a time when you need to stand up for what you believe in and you might need to speak up to a crowd.
So, timing is very important - knowing when to say whatever it is that needs to be said. Think first!!!
The way in which we say things is almost as important as the content. Keep in mind that what we say and how we say it might be the only glimpse of Jesus that people will ever see. The tone of our words is very important.
Have you ever forced yourself to apologize for something but it comes out sounding nasty? The words "I'm sorry" are hissed through your front teeth with an evil eye glaring at the other person. This example is not a very sincere apology. This type of tone will be met with hostility, rejection and mocking. Tone and aggressive non verbal communication will fuel the fire causing more strife and increase the argument (or cause an argument).
In the future - pay attention to the way in which you say things.
Inferring or interpreting what someone says can be just as poisonous & fire starting as the speaking. Monsters have been created out of a simple misunderstanding.
There have been many times when what I have said has been misunderstood causing great pain and havoc. I am always floored when I find out what somebody inferred from me speaking. I'm also deeply upset when I am not given the chance to explain my true motive or defend my words.
Ask or clarify before responding.
4. TWISTING THE TRUTH
Gossip spreads like a wildfire burning everything in it's pathway. Nothing good can come from gossip and spreading rumors - it destroys relationships; it destroys growth and it destroys trust.
Spreading one's own interpretation of what somebody else said without actually going to that speaker to clarify what he/she said is no different than deliberately twisting the truth. Sincerely talking about someone with the intent of helping that person is different than gossip - just make sure that the person with whom you are sharing this information has the same helpful motives.
Only speak the whole truth and not a twisted version of the truth.
Our mouth has 2 extremes: praising & cursing.
Is your tongue starting a wildfire? or is fresh clean water flowing from your words?