The Power of the Tongue


James 3:10 (ESV): 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.


One of the major emphases of James is the tongue. James 3 begins suggesting that people should not necessarily clamor to become teachers, preachers, etc. in the church because the standard of judgment for those who serve in this function is higher.

The tongue is like the ship’s rudder, small but directing that huge vessel. The tongue is like a spark that can burn an entire forest. The tongue cannot be tamed by humanity without God’s help, but contains venomous poison from Hell.

So we find that the same mouth is used for praising and cursing, for speaking beautiful things of others and for expressing slanderous hatred.


As we think about the tongue (especially the tongues of others and not our own, for that is less convicting!), we obviously see the problem of hypocrisy. Yet hypocrisy is yet an outward sign a deeper problem: rebellion against the lordship of King Jesus.

Some live in continuing rebellion against Christ’s ultimate control. They may act righteously most of the time, but their heart and mind are corrupt and often find expression through the tongue.

Others have surrendered their lives to Christ, but from time to time, fail to listen for the guiding whisper of the Holy Spirit and so will slip into old ways of the flesh, speaking evilly of others.

There is a solution to the problem of the tongue! One’s heart must be cleansed of all inbred sin and filled fully with the Holy Spirit. Then one will be characterized by wisdom from above that reaps a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:17–18 (ESV): 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.


Heavenly Father, we need your cleansing and filling power so that our tongues may be tamed. We do not want to live with a tongue out of control; neither do we wish to have a tongue only mostly in control. Rather, we desire the power of the Holy Spirit upon our speech, and our inmost thoughts and desires. Thank you for your sanctifying grace! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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