Taming the Tongue

I talked yesterday about taking control of my mouth, even if it means thinking about what I’m saying more than I want to. James calls it taming the tongue. He also says we can’t do it and it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Sounds pretty grim, really. But, then, he goes on to say:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.  -James 3:9-12

So it seems that taking control of the tongue means making sure that what you say is consistent with a nature and a heart that praises God. A salt spring can not produce fresh water. So if you curse your brothers who are made in God’s image, then you kind of cancel out your praise of God, I guess. That is better than just not being able to say anything which is kind of what I think of when I think of taking control of my mouth. Better to not say anything at all.

I started thinking today that taking control of one’s words isn’t just about behavior. I mean, it’s never just about behavior, is it? I think that having a mouth that praises rather than curses starts with, as Peter would say, having a quiet and gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:4). And I think that is humility. It seems like humility is a good place to focus. I mean, it’s the opposite of pride and that’s the first and most popular sin, as I understand it. So I looked up humility and I find this:

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.                                                              -Matthew 22:39

So that’s pretty cool And straight from Jesus. As for a picture of humility in action, I find this from Paul:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.                                                                                      -Philippians 2:3

I always struggle with humility. I guess we all do. I start thinking I’ve got it figured out, but a lot of the time, when I am acting on others’ behalf, I’m thinking about what an awesome job I’m doing at this humility gig. So I think that kind of ruins it. *sigh* Luckily, God’s grace covers us all.

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