The verse we look at is from the Gospel of James 3:3. First, we read it in 3 versions.
For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. (version NLT)
Yet if we’re able to bridge the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way, and that means our character is mature and fully developed. (version TPT)
And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature. (version AMPC)
It’s very easy to say what comes to your mind. If you have lived long enough, you may have come across people who regret what they have spoken at the spur of the moment.
Offending others often happens by saying the wrong things. Blanket statements (statements with words like always, so far, all the time, never) rather than specific statements, cause hurts and lifelong offences.
Interacting with little children, you get to hear them complain to their parents that a friend called them something, and they burst into tears! The same happens with many grown-ups.
Between individuals, families, businesses, nations, fights start because of careless casual remarks and statements. These days, words that a person posts on social media can cause a huge amount of violence in the news media.
From the verse, we get a great key. We have a great opportunity to build our character by controlling the words we use. We gain control over our whole body in this process. Use words with considerable thought. Even choosing not to use words, not to speak, not to reply when others literally drag you into purposeless discussions is an expression of control.
Even when you have reason to respond with facts, when you choose not to say you choose not to pour oil into a fire, it’s an expression of control. Though it may seem to be losing the arguments, silence birthed from the love of Jesus in your heart, takes you towards long term, sustainable triumph. That is the beauty and power of controlling your tongue.
How can we take control of our tongue?
1. Ask the Holy Spirit for self-control. With self-control, you gain control over your tongue.
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[f]that can bring a charge]. (Verse Galatians 5:22,23 AMPC)
2. Remember that you have the capacity to crucify the cravings or desires to speak unwholesome words as they start as thoughts and come to your mouth.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. (Verse Galatians 5:24 AMPC)
3. Desire that your words will be gracious. We know that the Lord gives the desires of our hearts.
Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you]. (Verse Colossians 4:6 AMPC)
4. Be quick to hear and slow to speak.
Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. (Verse James 1:19b AMPC)
5. Keep conversations good and encourage others.
Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. (Verse Ephesians 4:29 AMPC)
6. Remember that an untamed tongue can be wicked. Daily having a routine of examining your words of that day, will help in weeding out evil talk from us.
And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna). (Verse James 3:6 AMPC)