FROM THE HEART TO THE TONGUE
The tongue is a marvelous complex instrument with several functions. For starters it is used as a sense organ and can warn us when things are to hot. It is also used to shape the food that we chew into a small ball for ease of swallowing. In a man there are about 9000 taste buds, which are used to distinguish between different flavors such as biter, salty, or sweet things.†
Webster dictionary defines the tongue as being a flexible muscular organ in the mouth used in tasting, swallowing, and for speech.† This our course is the †scientific explanation of what the tongue is but for our lesson this morning we are going to be examining what he Bible says about the tongue and just how powerful it can be when it used to express the intent of someoneís heart. I think we have all experienced what happens when we or someone else loses control of their tongue. As one person said,
ďMany things are opened by mistake, but none so frequently as the mouth.Ē
James gives us some great details about powerful the tongue is and how difficult it is to control in, †
James 3:2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.
Here James is pointing out to us, that as Christians we stumble in many areas of our lives because we are not perfect and God knows this but if it were possible that we could control our tongue then James said we could be perfect and that we would be fully capable of controlling our entire body so that we would never stumble. In this we are being taught that the tongue is harder to control than any things else.
†3 Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.
When you think about the illustrations that James gives isnít amazing that something so small like a bit or rudder can control such big objects like a horse or a boat. He uses this illustration to point out the power of the tongue even though it is a small member of the body as we read in,
†5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. †7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. †8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
You see the tongue can be used for good and can be good for evil. When we fail exercise control of our tongue the words that we speak can be a powerful as a spark in dry forest because it can burn everything down in it path. James tells us cannot tame his tongue but he doesnít not say that God cannot and we as Christians can learn to control our tongues through the help of God and by keeping Godís Word in our heart. I have seen first hand on several occasions where a person who claims to be a Christian will praise God out one side of their mouth and then foul language and harsh word will come out the other side of their mouth but this should not be the case.
John gives us a example of this in,
1 John 4:20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
It one thing to simply praise God with your tongue but it takes great discipline and trust in God to control you tongue everywhere else. Just as John told us we cannot praise God and then turn around and bash our brother or sister with evil hurtful words.
Another thing we need to realize about the tongue is that it will eventually express what is in a person heart. In most cases a doctor can look at your tongue and tell if you are sick or not. The same is true about our spiritual health. You can usually find out how serious a Christian is in the heart about following in the foot step of Jesus by how they use their tongue.
Jesus points this out to his when he responds to †the Pharisees after they accuse him of casting out demons by Beelzebub.
Mat 12:34 "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
The words that come out of our mouth are reflection of what is our heart and if our heart is not pure eventually it will be made known that why it important that we learn to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Later on Jesus also rebukes the Pharisees and the scribes for trying to say that unwashed hands defiles a person. He tells them,
Matthew 15:11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person."
For whatever reason Peter doesnít understand what Jesus is telling these Jews here so he explains it to him in,
Matthew 15:16 And he said, "Are you also still without understanding?† 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?† 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.† 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.† 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."
So the tongue will reflect what is in a person heart. It is up to us on whether we use our tongue for good or for evil. If we choose to use it for good,
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.
But if we choose to use them for evil,
Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD Ö
We have free will and we must make our choice on how we use our tongue but understand that we will be judged by how we use our tongues as Jesus says in,
†Mt 12:36 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
We need to keep this in mind before we let lose our evil tongue on those around us. We also need to realize that the tongue has the power to bring about life or death both spiritually and physically. †
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
example of how it can bring about physical death can be found in 1Kings 13 †where a man of God was sent to condemn
King Jeroboam for building idols for the children of
18 He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.' " (He was lying to him.)
The man of God believes this old prophet and was easily deceived. While the man of god is sitting there at the dinner table and God speaks through this prophet to him and tells him he has disobeyed and that he is going to die. Then when the man of God leaves a lion takes his life. Because of the lie from the old prophet this man of God was tempted to disobey Godís instruction and it ultimately cost him his life.
Paul teaches us not to "lie to another" (Col. 3:9).† John reminded us that "all liars" and "every one that loves and practices a lie" will have "their part" in "the lake that burns with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21:8; 22:15). As you can see the tongue when used to tell lies it can cause both physical death and it spiritual death and so we need to think twice about using our tongue in this way.
Another thing we learn about the tongue is it has the power to turn away wrath or to stir up anger as,
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Do you remember when Jesus was brought before Pilate and Pilate tried to reason with the Jews to let Jesus be released because he knew that Jesus hadnít done anything deserving death and we know †the chief priest had handed him over because of their envy. But Pilates plea was overridden by the tongue of these chief priest because they stirred up the crowds so that they would release Barabbas instead of Jesus and they succeeded. Mark 15:10f Again this shows us just how powerful words can be.
We have all probably been guilty at one time or another of stirring up someoneís anger. If you have close friend or spouse you know exactly how to push their buttons. You can make them angry faster than anyone else can because you know them so well.† When you keep on pushing them they become like a pressure cooker and some point they are going to blow their top. This is when anger becomes dangerous and sinful because all the evil thoughts and harsh words will come tumbling out of your mouth and these kinds of words destroy friendships and marriages. So we must be careful that we donít stir the anger in people because it will have harmful side effects for you and for that person.
So let us strive not to stir up anger instead let us learn to use a soft answer that will turn away wrath.
We also learn that the tongue can be used can be used wisely or foolishly.
Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
We should be careful of what advice we give. Several years ago I was sitting in a restaurant minding my own business when these 2 ladies at the table next to me were talking about one of their husbands. She was telling the lady about something that her husband did that made her mad and the other lady said well I would leave him if he did that to me. So many times people give bad advice when they donít know the entire situation. Maybe you have had friends give you similar advice but advice like this can destroy homes and it go against what the Bible teaches on marriage because marriage is life time commitment and it should not be done away because of conflicts instead it should be worked out. So let us try to be wise with what advice we give to others.
Another misuse of the tongue is when we decide to spread gossip.
Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Ö
Sometimes it seems that people have nothing better to do with their time than to spread rumors or talk about the faults of others. Listen to what one person said about gossip.
"I am more deadly than the screaming shell from a howitzer; I ruin without killing.† I tear down homes; I break hearts and wreck lives.† I have no respect for truth or justice, no mercy for the defenseless.† You will find me in the pews of the pious and the haunts of the unholy.† I am wily, cunning, malicious, and I gather strength with age.† I make my way where greed, mistrust, and dishonor are unknown.† I feed on good and bad alike.† My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea and often are innocent.† I never forgive and seldom forget.† My name is gossip.
Isnít this true. Gossiping does nothing but harm, and not one good thing will come from it. When people put their trust in you and confide personal information that is suppose to stay between you and them and then you turn around and blab everything to the first person you see how long do you think that friendship will last? Well, if they find out that you were the one that told off on them then that friendship will not last long. We all know happens to stories that go from one person to other it changes because one person will add something another one will leave out part of the story and the end result will be a story that is far different than the original one.
However, there also those spread lies about people because they are jealous of them or they want to get revenge for something they did so they try to hurt through gossip. As Christians donít you think important that we donít find ourselves caught up in the gossip game. No matter interesting or harmless a gossip story may be you could contributing to something that may really hurt someone down the line. Even when have a true story you have to ask yourself the question what benefit is going to come from sharing this story to someone else. Now there are certain instance where something like this could be beneficial to that person or could be bad. In instances like these we must exercise good judgment so that nobody gets hurt.†
All of these things we looked at so far on controlling the tongue has to do with the condition of our heart. So the key to using your tongue for righteousness is making your heart pure which means your thoughts will be pure and words will be pure. Paul stresses the need for us to control our thought in,
2. Cor 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
This should be every Christianís goal to bring into captivity every thought of man to the obedience of Christ. This is not an easy task because evil thoughts may arise which could cause us to sin. But, if we stay as close to God as possible, and have an active prayer life, even these thoughts can be brought into obedience of Christ. We must train our minds with the Word of God so that eventually good thoughts, not evil, will dominate our hearts. This can only come about by much prayer and much training.† However, it should be the goal of every Christian. Someone once said, "You may not be what you think you are, but you are what you think."† One who thinks filthy thoughts is likely to live that kind of life. The book of Proverbs also teaches this.
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is heÖ
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. †††
Jesus told us in the great Sermon on the mount that it is possible for us to commit murder or adultery in our hearts (Matt. 5:27-28).† Bringing our thoughts into captivity is a never-ending battle.† However, it can be done and must be done. Now next week we will be talking more about the power of the tongue and how it can be used for both good and evil.
I hope this lesson has made you think more about how you use your tongue and I hope that if you have not been using it properly that will start today. I also hope you have leaned how important it is for you heart to be pure so that you thoughts can be pure and finally I hoped you have learned that the your has the power to make the difference between life and death both physically and spiritually.