Teaching was a highly valued and respected profession in Jewish culture. Many Jews who embraced Christian wanted to become teachers’. James warned that although it is good to aspire to teach, the teacher’s’ responsibility is great because their words affect others’ spiritual lives. If you are in a teaching or leadership role, how is your example affecting those you lead?

What you say and what you don’t say are both important. Proper speech is not only saying the right words at the right time, but controlling your desire to say what you shouldn’t. Examples of wrongly using the tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, and lying. Before you speak, ask, ‚Is it true, is it necessary, and is it kind?‛

James compares the damage tongue to a raging fire; the tongue’s wickedness has its source in hell itself. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage. Satan uses the tongue to divide people and pit them against one another. Idle words are damaging because they spread destruction quickly, and no one can stop the result once they are spoken. A few words spoken in anger can destroy a relationship that took years to build. Before you speak, remember that words are like fire; you can neither control nor reverse the damage they can do.

If no human being can control the tongue, why bother trying? Because even if we do not achieve perfect control of it in this life, we can still learn enough control to reduce the damage it can do. It is better to fight a fire than to go round setting new ones! Remember that we are not fighting the tongue’s fire in our own strength. The Holy Spirit will give us increasing power to monitor and control what we say. As Christians we are not perfect, but we should never stop growing.

Our contradictory speech often puzzles us. At times it is right and pleasing to God, but at other times it is violet and destructive. Which of these reflects our true identity? The tongue gives us a picture of our basic human nature. We are good; made in God’s image; but we are also bad; fallen and sinful. God works to change us from the inside out. As the Holy Spirit purifies our hearts, he also gives us self-control so that we will speak words that please God.


WRITTEN BY: Pius Isaac Kedem Sedofia

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