Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 36:1-37:28 / James 3:1-18 /Psalm 129:1-8
A lady asked a produce department worker if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He responded, “Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!” She told him she was a long-time customer and offended that he would not sell her a half head of lettuce. “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.”
So the young man went and found the manager at the front of the store and said, “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy a half-a-head of lettuce.” The manager gestured to the employee and when he turned, he saw the lady had followed him and was standing behind him. Quickly the young employee added, “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half.”
We may describe this young man as “quick on his feet” because he was able to recover from his almost fatal outburst. James writes, “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” (James 3:2) He describes the person who is able to keep his words in check is a perfect man. The Greek word for perfect does not mean “without error or defect” but means, “to be mature or complete.”
James uses the inclusion words “we all” to describe the personal battle every person wages. There are many set backs on our quest for spiritual maturity and the person who is able to bridle their tongue is mature and exemplifies Christ-likeness. Controlling the tongue is a true indicator of overall self-control. If a person can tame the tongue, they can keep their whole body in check.
A small bit can control a powerful horse and bring their unruly nature to a place of surrender. A large ship is controlled by a small rudder, and is directed by the will of the captain. Both the bit and rudder must overcome contrary forces of nature. Our tongue will also determine if we will be driven by the wind of our human nature or overcome those forces with spiritual strength and maturity.
Man may have the ability to tame all kinds of wild animals, yet fails miserably in taming their own tongue because “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (vs. 8) Words are very powerful but the tongue is the trigger and igniter behind the words. The only way the tongue will ever be tamed is by a supernatural power. We need God’s intervention and divine ability to bring this unruly tongue under subjection.
The best way to control the tongue is to have our hearts filled with the fruit, spirit, love and fullness of God. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Matthew 12:34) What is in the depth of your heart will be made manifest by your words. Taming the tongue is not just a matter of self-control…it is a matter of your heart.