I can never read James 3 without laughing out loud. That’s because of a super crazy lesson about taming the tongue my two daughters experienced in their Sunday school class at church. Pastor Eric was leading the kids in his class through James, chapter 3, and he especially wanted them to learn how awful the words they speak can be.
So off Pastor Eric went to the supermarket, where he made a curious purchase in the fresh meat department. He bought a huge, slimy, bloodred, five-pound cow tongue!
And sure enough, at church on Sunday, Pastor Eric unwrapped the cow tongue and passed it around to everyone in the class. He told the kids to look at it. To smell it. To touch it!
I’m sure you can image the responses. “Ugh!” “Gross!” “Nasty!” A few kids even said, “I’m going to throw up!”
I’m guessing Pastor Eric was smiling and fist-pumping in his heart, thinking, “Yes! Point made!” Then he had the group open their Bibles, and they all read and discussed how terrible the tongue is—and the damage their words can do to others without taming their tongue.
The Bible teaches us that every person alive has a big problem with their mouth and their words. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing…this should not be.” (James 3:10) But God’s Word also tells us what do to about our tongue—and how to tame it (see the Respond section below).
Every day when you wake up, ask God to help you live in a way the blesses Him and helps people. One sure way to do this is with your words! These three steps will help you in taming your tongue:
Think before you speak.
Better yet, pray before you speak!
And if you get angry, don’t say a word.
Lord, I know how it feels to be hurt by something someone says, and I don’t want to do that anymore. Please give me words that are kind and encouraging to others. Amen.
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Here are two instructions from God’s heart to yours. Underline what these verses tell you to say—and not say—with your tongue.
- “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
- “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.” (1 Peter 3:10)