Have you ever spoken and wished you had eaten the words instead of spending them?  All of us have at one time or another, and lived to regret them.  James (chapter 3) said the tongue is an “unruly evil.”  Wow!  That’s strong language!  He said it was full of “deadly poison” and could be tamed by no man. 


Compared to other members of our body, it’s a tiny little thing, and you wouldn’t expect it to be so troublesome.  James admitted to its miniature size, yet it boasted great things.  He compared it to a little fire that could kindle a great fire.  States like California could certainly confirm that a tiny blaze could wipe out thousands of acres, homes and vehicles and put lives in danger; but fire under control is useful and beneficial.  So is the tongue; it can be destructive or constructive.


The strong language of James concluded that the tongue’s fire had its origin in hell!  We’ve all met up with a tongue that surely seemed to be coming from hell itself as it scorched those who were unlucky enough to be its target.  Further, we have seen that same tongue sit in a church pew and bless God or exude kind words.  How can that be?


James asked the question, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?...no fountain both yields salt water and fresh.”  Proverbs 18:21 states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

The problem goes deeper and farther than what the tongue expresses.  While it is true that only God can control the tongue; even He cannot control what comes out of our mouth if He isn’t in control of what is in our heart. 

“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth…For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:14, 16).

Words are “cheap.”  Anyone can speak them.  What if we had to write down every word we spoke to another and then read it to them—would we use the same speech and tone as if we had said it to them orally?  Maybe?  My first mental response was “no,” but then my mind recalled things I have read on places like FaceBook and MySpace.  I rarely write anything there and only have them because some of my family asked me to “be their friend,” and it is a way to keep up with what is happening in their lives.  I do look at them periodically to see what they are doing, and sometimes the things that I see are shocking and I know must grieve the Holy Spirit.  Some of the language is filthy, vulgar and disgusting.


I have never forgotten what my fifth grade teacher, Ina Redwine Fox, told us about vulgar language.  She reminded us that only people who had a limited vocabulary had to resort to those kinds of words.  It means they are incapable of expressing themselves without interspersing their speech with vulgarity.  Besides what my teacher told us about how we expressed ourselves, One greater than she said, “…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).  Life!  His Words speak life!  When we speak His Words, we too speak Life.

The unruly tongue that James spoke of speaks death!  Which should we choose—Life or Death? 

Contrary to the limited vocabulary of the speakers of vulgarity, those with understanding speak wisdom.  Wisdom is an internal condition from which words spring that are “pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).  We can make someone’s day or break it with our words.  A few words of kindness and encouragement can fire up a lagging spirit or a bruised ego.  They create a reciprocity that can spread to others in the path of the giver and receiver of kindness; and the circle widens with each contact. 


It is a fact that if we want to have words sweeter than honey; they have to begin in our innermost being.  “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).  We have already seen that man (woman) has no control over his (her) tongue.  It is unruly, vile and evil, fired up from hell.  So how can the tongue be tamed to be sweet as honey?  There is only one way:  Like bits in a horse’s mouth and a ship controlled by a small helm, we must give the Holy Spirit control of our lives, submit our sins to the Lord Jesus Christ to be cleansed by His blood and have a complete renovation in our heart and life.  On our own we do not have the ability to cleanse our heart of offenses, given and received, that find a voice as they emanate from our hearts. 

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste!  Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103)

“A good man out of the good treasure of his HEART [emphasis mine] bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his HEART [emphasis mine] bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45).


One last thing:  How often do we hear people who are astonished, scared or surprised say “Oh, my God!” or “Dear God!” or “Jesus Christ!” as part of their exclamation, not in reverence, but just as an expression.  That should not be.  Remember the third commandment:

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

Do we think God was just kidding?  We better believe He was not! 


It’s time to clean house in our mouths and resolve to use the words of our tongues for edification of others and reserve God’s name for conversations to and about Him, not for a byword.  The tongue-cleaning has to begin in our hearts to make our mouths a praise station for our God and blessing-utterances for each other.  Try it for a few days:  Be gentle, speak only kind words, eliminate cursing and vulgar language, fill your mind with good thoughts and your mouth with positive words, honor and praise God every day; and then write in your diary what the results were.  Others will be blessed and you will even like yourself better. 


“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

“…I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalm 17:3).




Another page on Words:  "A Fit Wordly Spoken"


(Music Playing)

“Wonderful words of life”

Philip Bliss, 1874

Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty
teach me faith and duty.

Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.

Christ, the blessed one, gives to all
wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call,
wonderful words of life;
all so freely given,
wooing us to heaven.

Sweetly echo the gospel call,
wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all,
wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
sanctify forever.








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@ There's Good News August 2010


Picture courtesy of George Kovach