Taming the Tongue
Based on a sermon from Sunday 19th June 2022
Has anyone heard of the phrase, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me”? It’s a chant that was spoken on the playground when I was a child, but in my experience, and with what the Bible tells us, that phrase is completely false. I am sure that many of you have been in situations when the words that someone has spoken to you or over you, have hurt you or caused you pain.
When I was a young teenager, I was bullied at school. I had really bad acne when I was a teen, and I had a really low body image of myself. Because of my low self-esteem, the words that people said to me were powerful. I was called “pizza face” and many other names too. All the bad words that were spoken over me were hurtful and made me more and more depressed. Because I had depression, I would come home and lash out in anger, and would cause even more pain and sadness. I said horrible things to my father, mother and sister, but this was because of the hurt and pain I was feeling inside. The painful words at school, sparked a fire within my low self-esteem. This fire then grew and overflowed at home. I tried to stop the fire from spreading into my own family, but then I would also receive painful words at home from my family too. Some of the words that were spoken at home by my family, did not help my situation, but they helped to stoke the fire even more that roared in my heart.
The fire in my heart raged on and on and it corrupted my whole body. I was angry, bitter and utterly depressed, so much so that I wanted to end my life. The only thing that could help me, was a Holy Spirit encounter with God. I needed him to pour his waterfall of love, kindness, joy and acceptance over me. I needed his healing water to pour over the fire in my heart and heal me…. Which you know, is what God did.
This scripture in James 3 is such a huge challenge, but it is so important to us. Your speech is a barometer of your spirituality and your relationship with God. When I was a teenager, my relationship with God was very small and so therefore my speech was full of hate. When God filled me afresh with the Holy Spirit, His living water flooded the depths of my soul and restored me.
Jesus spoke about this water of life to the Samaritan woman at the well:
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)
This river of life changes us and the forest in our hearts can be forever watered and cleansed.
When our heart is overflowing with his living water, we will naturally speak with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and we will have self-control, i.e. the fruit of the Holy Spirit, (Galatians 5:16-26). Keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, will enable us to tame our tongue, because the Holy Spirit has turned our tongue of cursing, into a mouthpiece of God’s glory and blessing.
Our tongue should only be used to bring praise and glory to God and to bless. If we yield to the Holy Spirit and let the Holy Spirit completely and utterly lead us and take over, then the promise God gives is that our tongues will build each other up. If we surrender to God, then our old self will go and we will be made righteous and holy. These scriptures are not a command; they are a promise.
Earlier on, I shared about the brokenness of my own heart. My heart was a broken dry and dusty hot forest. It was the perfect conditions for a forest fire to start. When the sparks of hate and pain came, the forest in my heart was set ablaze and it became uncontrollable. If the forest in your heart is healthy, i.e. it is well nourished and saturated with the Holy Spirit, then the sparks of fire would have little or no effect. If the forest in your heart is dry, words of fire can have devastating effects and can last a lifetime. They can become part of us and who we are. They can become part of the fabric of who we are.
That is why it is so important to have a healthy forest in your heart. The sparks of fire will come. They will come because the enemy wants to destroy us and make us believe that we are the scum of the earth and not God’s chosen people. The enemy knows how to make you feel horrible and he will plant seeds of lies and hate in your life. However, if you have a healthy heart, or if you have a heart like a healthy forest, when the sparks of the enemy do come, these sparks will get quenched by the Holy Spirit.
When the sparks of fire come, we need bring up fresh water from the well of living water inside our heart. We need to bring up His words of truth; I am accepted, I am loved, I am chosen, I am God’s masterpiece, I cannot be separated from the love of God, I am redeemed, I am significant to God, I am a new creation, I am the apple of God’s eye, I am a saint, I am a joy bringer, I am healed, I am un-offendable, I am courageous, …. The list can go on and on.
We are a Jesus Ministry Church. Within this Jesus Ministry teaching we learn that time and time again, we agree with the enemy’s words over our lives. I agreed that I was ugly and that spark completely destroyed my heart and made me depressed and angry. We need to agree with God’s truth; the truth that we are beautifully and wonderfully made.
Why not write done your thoughts as you ponder these questions. Perhaps you could share your reflections with others.
Digging into God’s Word
Start by saying this prayer…
God, thank you that you always want to heal my heart. Thank you that you love me and you can always come and mend my brokenness. Where there have been fires that have raged in the forest of my heart, come with your Holy Spirit and quench and restore them. I pray protection over me now as I take time to respond to this word. Thank you that you love me and are with me. Amen.
Have there been some sparks of fire that have come flying your way recently? What has that done to your heart? Have they hurt you? Has there been words of pain that were said to you a long time ago that has still left some pain or sorrow?
Take some time to chat about these questions with God and if you can, forgive these who have cursed you and then bless them.
Spend time praying that you will become freed up from focusing on past hurts and move towards perceiving new works that God has prepared for you in this season. God is calling all to notice and step on to the pathway He is making in the wastelands, and to drink from the rivers in the desert.