One time when I was on the radio, someone called in and gave me an earful about what they thought the problem with the modern church was: namely, that more Christians don't speak in tongues. "Actually," I replied, "I would say that one of the biggest problems in the church today is that a number of Christians can't control the tongue they have."
James 3 says, "No man can tame the tongue" (v. 8). This infers that God is the only one who can and that mature believers will submit to His lordship in this area by being restrained—by watching what they say with their lips and what they tweet with their thumbs.
In the same chapter of his book, James wrote, "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell" (vv. 5-6).
Why make such a big deal out of this? Because probably more sins are committed by our mouths than just about any other part of our bodies. It's so easy to do. A little fire is so easily set. It's effortless. You don't even have to be intelligent (usually it reveals a lack of intelligence).
"[The tongue] is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so" (vv. 8-10). Some people's tongues shift into different forms depending on whose company they're in. Loose lips like this can destroy lives.
In Proverbs 6, Solomon listed seven things God hates, and three of them involve a misuse of the tongue: "a lying tongue," "a false witness who speaks lies," and "one who sows discord among brethren" (vv. 17, 19).
So here's what I want you to think about: What words are you putting out there in the world, whether spoken in private to your spouse, said to strangers, or posted on social media for the world to see? Do they convey wisdom, understanding, goodness, meekness? Do you seek to honor the Lord when it comes to your words? Remember: your tongue matters; what you say matters. Next week I'll look more specifically at helpful words—the words we ought to share with others.