Day 5: Controlling the Tongue

James 3:1-12, Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 12, Matthew 12:36-37

James brings up one thing we all do every day of our lives: communicate. Whether we are texting friends, talking with family, or updating social media, we are always communicating and we’re doing it all under the reign of Christ.

Many of us believe Jesus is Lord over our lives, but do we see His gracious reign over our tongues, our words, our sentences, and paragraphs? Do we post verses in the morning and then speak unkind comments in the afternoon? How often have we sung praises to our great God and Savior and then turned around and gossiped or slandered someone made in God’s image?

The tongue is a tiny muscle, hardly noticeable, rigged with two cages—teeth and lips—and yet it still gets out of control. Brothers, Jesus cares about our speech.

Typically, men love completing tasks. We finish a project at work, mow the grass, or grill the perfect steak, and we enjoy a sense of accomplishment. Well, James looks right at us and says, “Guys, here’s one task you can’t accomplish. You can’t wrangle in your words. You won’t tame your tongue.”

And to make matters worse, James shows us the warhead nature of our sinful words—they leave havoc, pain, and rubble after they’ve been launched. Is James trying to make us feel powerless and hopeless? In a way, yes—so that we’ll find our power and hope in Christ alone.

How many times have we tried to be like Jesus without Jesus? Too many. James doesn’t want to us to feel conviction about our speech, hang our heads, and try to do better tomorrow on our own. He tells us straight up, “You can’t tame this beast.”

But God can.

Whether you unleash biting sarcasm, inappropriate humor, rage-filled rants and raves, bragging big-deal-ness, or common complaining, there is good news: Jesus specializes in transforming sinners like us. He gives us new lives with Him. He can tame our tongues. He can retrain our speech. His cross, His empty tomb, and His reign in Heaven transform our hearts and our words.

Where the Lord convicts your speech, surrender to Him. Pray “Lord, help me.” He looks toward those who make this humble request. He will draw near.

Written by J. A. Medders