James 3:1-12 | Proverbs 16:23,27, 29:11 | Psalm 19:14

Is your tongue housebroken?

Has your mouth ever gotten you into trouble? You know it has. 

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

James 3:2 NLT

How can it be that such a small part of your body can cause so much calamity?

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

James 3:3-5a NLT

You see, your tongue–much like your heart [link: https://thesuperbookshow.com/dont-follow-your-heart/]–can’t be trusted. Why? Because it’s evil, that’s why.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

James 3:5b-6 NLT

And your tongue corrupts your whole body. It’s a lit sparkler in a dry forest. It’s a pair of cymbals in a room full of sleeping babies. It’s an open bottle of garlic powder held over an ice cream sundae.

What can you do to avoid a Garlic Sundae Scenario? (…Because nobody wants that.)  

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.

Psalm 29:11 NLT

Here’s a start: when you get angry, shut your mouth. Wait… Won’t venting your anger keep you from blowing up? There might be some truth in that–but the whole truth is: venting your anger whenever it arises just leads to more anger. It’s like trying to put out a fire with a flamethrower.

Scoundrels create trouble; their words are a destructive blaze.

Proverbs 16:27 NLT

Don’t be a scoundrel. Be wise and think before you speak; your words will be more effective.

From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive.

Proverbs 16:23 NLT

And don’t be fooled. You will never tame your tongue on your own.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:7-8 NLT

You need God’s help. If you have turned over your life (and cares) to him, ask him for help with your tongue. And don’t stop doing it…because your tongue is, basically, wild.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 NLT

Questions for Group Discussion

  • When was the last time you said something you regretted? What would you change if you have a do-over?
  • Aside from harsh words spoken in anger, what are some other ways your tongue can go wild? Check Proverbs 16:28 if you need a suggestion. 
  • Why do you think James (3:6) and the author of Proverbs (16:27) compare your tongue/words to fire? How are they similar?

Application: Become a Tongue Tamer

You won’t need a chair or whip for any of this.  

Let’s say you’ve got a tongue that is (how shall we say this…) a bit wild. How would you go about calming that tongue down? 

Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Think about recent times you lashed out at someone verbally, or said things that got you in trouble.
    • What prompted the incidents, on your side?
    • Look for a pattern in the incidents, and ask yourself, “What triggers that response in me?”
    • Seriously consider what would have been a better response.
  2. Ask God…
    • What incorrect beliefs you have that are causing you to react as you are
    • To show you scripture that speaks against those lies
    • To tame your tongue
    • To show you your part in the process
  3. Start speaking the truth to yourself.
    • Memorize scriptures that address the lies you are dealing with
    • Repeat them to yourself daily as often as the need arises.
  4. Practice thinking before you speak.
    • Take a deep breath before answering a question.
    • Consider how you would respond to the answer you are considering.
    • Assume that whoever you are speaking with is not deliberately attacking you.

All of the above is a great start toward taming your tongue, but consider finding a wise ally to help in your endeavor.

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.

Proverbs 13:20

Your wise ally could be a parent, church member, or even a Christian counselor.