Everyone struggles with their tongue. Sometimes it feels like a coiled up viper, ready to strike. No matter how hard you grit your teeth to stop it, it will come flying out at a moment’s notice! James described your tongue as a runaway horse: “And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. I remember being on a runaway horse. She ran straight for a barbed wire fence. No amount of pulling on the reins changed her course. Right before crashing into the fence, she planted her feet, stopped, and threw me over her head into the fence. When 1500 pounds of solid muscle starts moving, you are definitely NOT IN CONTROL!
How do we control this “horse inside our mouth?”
1. Learn to listen.
- James said, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:14). Listening controls the tongue. We all suffer from the “fast mouth syndrome.” The more angry we get, the faster we talk, the louder we talk.
- When your tongue is about to “get loose,” think EARS. How long can you listen before you bark back in defensiveness? Work on it and you will become slow to speak.
2. Surrender to the spirit.
- “If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well." (James 3: 3). The tongue connects the spirit world to the natural world like a rudder or a bridle. If I connect my tongue to my spirit, I will change my world into beauty, grace, and love.
- If I connect my tongue to my soul (where Satan is active) I will set the course of my life toward ugliness, anger, and hatred.
3. Control the flesh.
- “The tongue is a fire” (James 3: 5). Someone said gossip is confessing other people’s faults. My tongue can start a wheel of destruction as dangerous as a match in a dry forest.
- “It is…full of deadly poison” (James 3: 8). The tongue of poison is related in the Bible to deception and lying. Hitler lied to the German people about the Jews and deceived them into murdering six million innocent people. Correct ANY untruth that comes out of your mouth the moment it is said, no matter how small.
- “It can curse or bless.” Profanity (cursing) is a spiritual power that has a desire to control others with my words. Here is an interesting fact: “81% of employers question your professionalism when you use profanity: it shows lack of control, lack of maturity, even lack of intelligence in their eyes. The higher up the ladder you go, you have to be able to handle tough situations with measured reactions.” (Fox Business, August 2, 2012).
Put a bridle on that horse. Put a lid on that poison. Put a wet Kleenex on that match. If you control your tongue, you will control your destiny.
What is the hardest moment you face in trying to control your tongue?