Our text today is the continuing in James, beginning in chapter 3:1-4, but our title is taken from verse 2: “…If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” – KJV
I Peter 3:8-12 would suggest that this discipline lies in the measure that we love God and we respond to His Word and His teaching.
8 – “…be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:”
9 – “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”
10 – “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:”
11 – “Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”
12 -“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
This morally and spiritually mature man, has learned to control his words, his tongue. This man, is also able to “bridle” his whole body. Circumstances in life certainly place us in vulnerable situations where we might be provoked to react and misuse our tongue and sometimes in these weaker moments, the consequences have a far-reaching grasp on our future integrity and credibility. Our talk and our walk have to match.
David, in Psalm 39:1understood this necessary discipline so that before his enemies he would not belie His God.
“I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”
In the same Psalm, verse 4, David pleads with God to show him how vain and transcient his life is and in remembering this, David wanted his life, his days to count before the Lord and for the Lord.
How can we practically go about being such a man as David, a man after God’s own heart?
Proverbs 16:1 Tells us we must prepare our hearts. When we do this, our responses and answers that we give are from the Lord, Himself. We have worked in, so to speak, God’s Word in our daily lives, in the moments of our days, that when the vexing occasions of life arise, and our flesh wants to take the reins and ‘react’, the Spirit of God and His Word permeate our being, IF we have prepared ourselves, that is, armed ourselves with His Word, to we will respond as God would have us to respond.
Proverbs 16:6b confirms, “…by the fear of the LORD, men depart from evil.” If when we “fear the Lord”, as the Word says we should, this becomes the great motivater for man to turn away from sin and in this particular instance, sinning with his tongue.
What troubles we could by pass and avoid if we were to do this ‘little thing’…with this ‘little organ’, our tongue, saving ourselves all manner of grief.
Proverbs 16:17 says it this way: “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”
Proverbs 16:23-24 shows us the process of the perfect man James speaks of. This man’s heart, if his heart is after God, will teach his lips and his life, and thus, his soul and health will benefit.
23 – “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
24 – Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”
Proverbs 18:4 gives us the comparison of two men. One man’s words are hidden, and the other man’s words are a refreshing overflowing spring of wisdom to the hearers.
Proverbs 18:4 – “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” Wisdom always conveys clarity; truth.
And, one more from Proverbs 18:21 to convey the power of the use of the tongue, whether for evil or good. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
I don’t think it could be any clearer: how we use our tongue will either benefit us when used properly and certainly bless the Lord, or it will be as a nail in our own coffin, afflicting our lives and our health and our very being, as it afflicts the receivers of our words. The choice is ours.
This portion of James beginning in verse one is addressed to believers (‘brethren’) and indicates that “masters” or teachers who obviously teach with the use of their tongue, will be judged more strictly by God because they instruct others. They are being warned in the use of their tongue, because by virtue of their sin nature, they will offend someone. Though inherently a sinner, are being advised to not let their sin be the sin concerning their tongue. If they will prepare their hearts and fill it with God’s Word and teaching, as they apply it to their lives, they will come to that place of spiritual maturity (perfect) and be able to discipline themselves when placed in those circumstances where they are tempted to sin.
You may not be a teacher of God’s Word. However, if you are a believer, you may be a parent, an aunt or an uncle, a church member, a friend to someone who looks to you for guidance in their walk with the Lord and this wisdom to discipline the tongue still applies to us.
An earlier post from James’ Gleanings spoke of ‘faith and works’. If we profess to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then our works must prove our faith. If the tongue is a weak area of faith for you, begin again, right now…confessing your sin to the Lord, Himself and with the power of the Spirit and the power of God’s Word, let us commit to obey God in the use of our tongue, that He might be pleased and glorified.