The Mark of a Mature Christian : A Tongue that is being Tamed



“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” – James 3:1-12

Have you ever wondered why Doctors sometimes look at a patient’s tongue when examining them? It turns out your tongue can tell a lot about what’s going with your overall health. According to WebMD, infections, stress, medication issues, and even aging can make their marks on your tongue. So those bumps, patches, and spots in your mouth can be harmless but they can give clues to what’s going on with your overall health.

As with physical health, we can also learn a lot about our spiritual health by examining our tongue. The Lord Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). James being the wisdom writer of the new testament picks up on this and gives us an exposé of the small member that is our tongue.  

How do we know if we are spiritually healthy Christians, those who are fit even to be teachers? We could do a detailed examination of our whole body, but James says if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body (James 3:2). It seems the tongue, small as it is, can reveal much about the state of our spiritual health (James 3:5). Thus, to know what is truly in our hearts (spiritual health or corruption), we need to just look at what comes out of our mouths.

The tongue is not just a litmus test that tells us how we are, but it is also a powerful tool that can do great damage or good. James likens the power of the tongue to bits in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a large ship. He goes further to describe the tongue as a fire, a world of unrighteousness, a stain, a restless evil and a deadly poison. I think we can all agree that anything so described has to be watched very carefully. We must heed the teaching from Proverbs 4:23-24 that says “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech and put devious talk far from you.”

As you would have seen, James’ chief concern in this epistle is that we practically and externally show the outworking of that which has happened within our hearts. We thus need to go forth and be doctors, we need to go and examine ourselves, check our tongues. Are the things we say evidence of a new heart? Do we let corrupting talk come out of our mouths, or only that which is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear? (Ephesians 4:29). James wants us to take the tongue seriously, for it cannot be tamed like every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature. The tongue is a beast that has be to watched all the time, we should never take our eyes off it, lest it sets our whole lives on fire.

The task of taming the tongue is an on-going task and it will have some failures. James himself says he stumbles in many ways (James 3:2). So, as God works out our salvation, we should see less saltwater coming out of the fresh springs that our hearts are in Christ, we should see more consistency in bearing the fruit of the type of tree we have been made in Christ. This is the mark of a spiritually maturing Christian, a tongue that is being kept in check.


Need to examine ourselves especially the tounge how we speak.Amen
So true..... we can practice on our animals whilst in lockdown!
Really helpful! A much needed prompt to examine ourselves in this regard.

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