The Apostle James devotes half a chapter to describe the tongue transmitting deadly poison, setting on fire the natural man (Jas 3.6). (Read Jas 3:2-11 carefully & prayerfully.) Let us see some verses from book of Proverbs in the Bible, where the tongue is seen to be ministering ‘poison’ – i.e. bringing forth sin.
- Rash words. ‘There are those who speak rashly like the piercings of a sword.’ Prov 12.18.
- Impoverishing words. ‘The talk of the lips tends only to penury.’ Prov 14.23. ‘Idle chatter leads to poverty.’ NKJV. Empty talk – nothing coming from the heart.
- Harping words. ‘He that harps on a matter separates close (intimate) friends.’ Prov 17.9. (Harping: repeating a matter, raking it up.)
- Tale-bearing words. ‘He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a gossip.’ Prov 20.19
- Back-biting words. ‘A whisperer (slanderer) separates intimate friends.’ Prov 16.28. (One who does not speak openly, but desires that his/her words should ‘not be repeated’. Slandering in secret.)
- Foolish words. ‘The mouth of fools gushes forth folly.’ Prov 15.1. (Babbling, speaking excessively, being a chatter-box.)
- Harsh (grievous) words. ‘A harsh word stirs up anger.’ Prov 15.1.
- Flattering words. ‘A man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet.’ Prov 29.5
- Malicious words. ‘An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.’ (Malicious: filled with malice, wickedness.) (Warning! Those who hear such mischievous and perverse talk are deemed to be evildoers and liars! Not only the speaker, but the hearer, both are guilty!)
- Arrogant words. ‘Arrogant speech.’ Prov 17.7, WEB, RV margin.
- Lying words. ‘A lying tongue hates those it crushes.’ Prov 28.
The Untamable Tongue
The Apostle James goes on to say “Every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Jas 3.7,8. The nature of beasts is tamable, but human nature (revealed by the tongue) is so full of deadly poison (of sin) that it is untameable. (It is best to read the whole section in James chapter 3, to understand the evil of the untamed tongue.)
The only remedy is to become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5.17), and possess a new life, with a new nature and a new tongue!
Alas, so many born-again Christians have not learnt the secret of bridling the tongue, of self-restraint in speech. How much of life is wasted in meaningless talk!
The Tongue and The Personal Life
‘He who guards his mouth preserves his life.’ Prov 13.3. Unnecessary words diffuse strength which should be kept for other demands. If the inner life is to be kept strong, much talking is best left alone. ‘Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from trouble.’ Prov 21.23.
So James says, ‘If any stumble not in word, the same is a perfect (i.e. mature, full-grown) man, able to bridle the whole body also.’ Jas 3.2.
THE OVERCOMER, 1909