The dangers of unruly tongue
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 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 3:1-2 NLT
Have we considered what is the effect of our words spoken to others? Do our words manifest our love for others? Do we practice God’s spiritual gift of temperance that we manifest it in the use of our tongue? David realized the importance of controlling the unruly tongue that he asked God in prayer to help him deal with this matter. “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips” (Psalm 141:3). James has already dealt with the subject of speech but he felt the need to go back again for he has more to say about this. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19). “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless” (James 1:26). We probably agree with the saying that “talk is cheap.” Yet, how often we express our intentions, personalities, and thoughts by the way we talk. The things that come out of our mouth greatly affects or influences those who listen to us. In a way, we are teaching others and James is admonishing us to be careful on how we carry out this responsibility for we will give an account to what we have spoken. “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak” (Matthew 12:36). James is not discouraging us to be teachers, in fact the Scriptures provide admonition that at a certain point of our life as a believer, we are expected to have the capacity to teach others. “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food” (Hebrews 5:12). Though we are expected to be teaching others about God and His Word as part of our growing into maturity that we should not take this responsibility lightly for we “will be judged more strictly.” James included himself for he too realized that “we all make many mistakes.” But there is an expectation that as we persevere in our Christian life, we will grow into maturity that by God’s grace, we are able to place our tongue in check that we can now speak the truth in love.