Why Our Tongues Matter So Much To Our Church’s Peace

It never ceases to amaze me. No matter how many times I read through the Bible it happens over and over again. I see something for the very first time. How it escaped me all those previous times I’ll never know.

Snake Tongue

Reading through James recently it hit me unlike ever before. A faith that works–the book’s theme–demonstrates its validity significantly in control of our tongues.

Track this emphasis with me in these verses:

James 1:26

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

James 3:1-12

I won’t cite the whole passage. You can read it by clicking on the link. But think about it. The writer invests twelve whole verses about our troublesome tongues declaring, “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (v. 8).

How so?

“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. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (v. 9-12).

Mike Mason sternly warns:

How cautious we need to be about leveling even the smallest criticism against the loved and elect children of God. Do we really think we can get away with grumbling against the friends of Jesus? If we stopped to realize who it is we were attacking, wouldn’t we bite our tongues (The Gospel According to Job, 241).

But James hasn’t finished this stream of exhortation just yet.

James 4:11-12

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Sorry, there’s even more. He hammers away in James 5:9.

“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold the Judge is standing at the door.”

Gulp. If that doesn’t sober us nothing will. How very serious does the Lord take this matter of how we speak about our brothers and sisters! We can and must gauge the legitimacy of our claim as Christ followers by it.

Ever since this latest light went on in the book of James, I have sought to exercise all the more care over the words I speak about others inside and outside my church. The last thing I want to hear from the lips of Jesus one day is “Heff, your religion was worthless because your tongue was poison.”

How about you?

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