But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
Psychologists have estimated that we have 700 opportunities to speak every week; with those opportunities, we construct 12,000 sentences, speak up to 50,000 words, and author a 150-page book. Did you get that? — every week! That is an astounding number!
But there is a great danger unexpressed in this statistic. If James says that our mouth is “full of deadly poison,” and we are opening our mouth 700 times a week, imagine how much damage is spewed forth without our even realizing it!
In America we are constantly reminded of our right to “free speech,” but this rightis never given to us in Scripture. Rather, the Bible warns us of the danger of using our words flippantly. James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”
In other words, James is saying that the 700 words we speak every week are indicators of our walk with Christ. If we are claiming to love God, yet all the while poisoning our brothers with thoughtless, cruel, or malicious words, we are only deceiving ourselves.
This story graphically illustrates the danger of speaking careless words. A young man living in ancient Greece had said something very harsh to one of his friends, later discovering that what he had said wasn’t true. He went to his wise teacher and asked, “Master, I hurt my neighbor with my words; what can I do to right this wrong?” His teacher said, “Find a sack and fill it with feathers. Tonight after everyone has retired, go around the village and put a feather on each doorstep.”
The young man was confused but obeyed the master’s command. When he had finished and returned to his home, he lay in bed and pondered the meaning of the task. Tossing and turning all night, he could not make sense of it. The next morning he ran to his teacher and declared, “Master, I’ve done what you’ve said. Now what do I do?”
His teacher responded, “Get your sack, go back to each doorstep — and retrieve every feather.” The young man retorted, “That is impossible! There is no way I can retrieve every feather. The wind has come during the night, people have been walking, animals have been moving, and the feathers will have been scattered by now.”
The teacher then explained, “The same is true with your words. They were very easy to speak, but they are impossible to retrieve.”
Fifty thousand words a week; 200,000 words a month; 2,400,000 words a year — that is the number of “feathers” we scatter, sometimes without thinking how far they will drift. We must develop the habit of thinking and praying before speaking, or we may deceive ourselves and destroy others around us.
And James reminds believers...“these things ought not to be.”Millions of Muslims throughout Iraq, Israel, and Jordan now hear the Gospel in their own language on Wisdom for the Heart! Click on The Forward Movement to read more about this exciting project.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
God has given us many examples in Scripture of men, women, boys, and girls who experienced the same kind of trials we experience today, but the most important example is Christ Himself. So in this colorful children’s book, Seth Davey challenges us with the words of Hebrews 12:3 to “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” We have a High Priest who can sympathize will all our weaknesses . . . and that’s a powerful truth that we should never stop thinking about!