06 The Challenge of the Tongue

James 1:19, 26

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; …
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless
. (ESV)

The Bible teaches that the heart is the well-spring of the tongue (Prov. 4:23; Mat. 12:33-37).

You cannot fix your speech – it’s the heart that needs fixing.
You need to earn the right to talk about a subject. It takes listening before you talk.

A heart filled with lovelessness towards others, will make the tongue speak insensibly and uncaring toward those whom you are speaking to.

A bridled tongue speaks with temperance. James says you have to hold back your tongue like one holds back a horse in order to steer it right.

But a heart filled with darkness speaks with an unbridled tongue.  Intemperate or immoderate speech does not hold back from speaking inaccurately, in ignorance and lying, insincerely, inappropriately, indecently, maliciously and manipulatively. The enormity and devastating consequences of this problem is described in James 3:1-12.

Insensitive speech has these aspects:

  1. It’s Inattentive
    Unlovingly not listening to fellow human beings – also fallen like you. Our aim must not be to win arguments, but to win souls. What is your motive – to show how smart you are? Then you should not speak at all, because your heart is not right! We must never win the argument at the expense of the soul. We must pray to God for wisdom to reach the soul.
    Another thing is that your hearers could be right and you are wrong.
  2. It’s Incessant
    People who cannot stop talking, causing their hearers’ heads to spin.

  3. It’s Intemperate
    An unbridled tongue is due to:
    a. A self-deceived heart.
    b. A worthless religion.

We will talk more next week and in detail about the cruelty of intemperate speech.

As Christians we are not going to indulge in insensitive speech. We’re going to listen more than we talk, nor indulge in intemperate speech, neither in how profusely we speak nor in the way we speak and what we say. We are going to speak the truth in love, honouring our Father and loving our neighbour.