The Tongue


Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like for us to look at a subject that we are all very familiar with. It is a little thing that we use each day for a variety of purposes. We use it to talk, sing, whistle, and taste. It is the tongue. The tongue can be used for many good things. We can use it to encourage someone, offer praise to a child, to give guidance and direction to someone in need, and give thanks and praise to God for His goodness to us. Unfortunately it can also be used for less desirable things. It has become all too popular to hear someone use their tongue to berate another person, to gossip and say hateful and unkind words about someone, this has become quite common in our society. Just look at the magazines at the checkout stand next time you are in line at the store, better yet just take my word for it and donít look at the tabloids.

Listen to what Godís Word, the Bible, has to say concerning the use of this little piece of flesh known as the tongue. In James 3:2-12, "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. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 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. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 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. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh."

Think of the number of problems that have arisen in your life and mine and those around us because of something that was said that would have been better left unsaid. Our mouth can get us into all kinds of problems. The Bible admonishes us to "be slow to speak and quick to hear." We would be far better off if we were to follow the Old Swedish proverb that says, "Better to keep your mouth closed and people think youíre a fool, than to open it and dispel all doubt." Then there is the one that became popular during World War II, "Loose lips sink ships."

Strangely enough, with all the wise counsel that has been given over the years concerning being careful about the use of our tongue, there is so much careless talk going on today. The person who "speaks their mind" is admired today. It doesnít matter to them who they may hurt or the problems they may cause by what is said, they are sure it is best if they give everyone a piece of their mind. I often wonder if those that believe they must give another a piece of their mind, give it any thought whether or not they can afford it.

One of the most hideous uses of the tongue is for gossip. Gossip is talking about another whether it is true or false. It happens in all sorts of settings. It may be at the lunch table at work or school, over the phone with a friend or neighbor, while driving in the car, or even at a church function. It often begins with something like, "Oh, did you hear about so and so?" or "Let me tell you what I heard about this person." The insidious thing about gossip is that both the teller and hearer get a perverted sort of pleasure out of what is said. That gives us a vivid picture of what is in the human heart.

It must be realized that all that is said and done in our lives originates in the heart of man. When the Bible speaks about the heart of man it is not talking about the organ in our body that pumps the blood. Rather it is our soul, our nature, the real you that makes up your thoughts and feelings. Look at what the Bible has to say about this. In Mark 7:14-23, "When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; (the Pharisees, who were a group of religious leaders, had just condemned the disciples of Jesus for not going through the "acceptable" seven washings of the hands before they ate) but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!" When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" And He said, "What comes out of a man that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

In like manner today, many are very concerned with what we put into their body by way of their mouth, but give little to no thought of what comes out of their mouth when they speak. We care more about how our breath smells than how our words may cut down and hurt someone. Cussing and foul language has become the accepted norm in much of our society today. It is in almost every movie and television show today. I took my family out to dinner not too long ago and our table was next to a table of three college age people, two guys and a girl. Their conversation was filled with expletives. I stood up and confronted them on their choice of words and how I did not care to have my children hear the words that they were using. To my surprise, they were very apologetic and ceased using the expletives in their conversation. They even apologized again as they left. The sad thing is, is that their foul language had become so common place for them they did not realize it though when confronted their conscience knew it was wrong.

After reading this you may realize the need to clean up how you talk and be more careful with what you say. This is a good thing but of far greater importance is the need for a clean heart, for it is out of the heart that all we say and think originates. No one can clean up his or her own heart; the Holy Spirit can only do this work. David realizing his need for a clean heart cried out to God in Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." God desires to give us a right heart that good things may proceed out of it rather than evil.

Years ago a dear old pastor told me a number of questions to ask myself before I said something about another. Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it make me look better and the person of which I speak look worse? Will it be pleasing to Jesus? Will it build up or tear down? Iíve often used this and it has helped to keep my mouth shut. Unfortunately I must confess that there have been times which I should have used it but didnít and said the wrong thing.

Dear ones, only Jesus Christ can help you in these matters. If you do not know Him as your Lord and Savior, ask to come into your life today and change your heart and give you power over your tongue.

If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail

Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine