Learning a new skill can be difficult, but it might be even harder to break a bad habit. Learning how to tame your tongue might be a new skill that also manages a bad habit.
James addressed untidy tongues when he said: “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body (3:2).”
When James used “word” in the verse above, he chose “logos.” In classical Greek “logos” was more than just the spoken word; it also included the inner thought that gave birth to the spoken word.
We live in a time when too much of our language is mono-syllabic, four letters, and laced with profanity. James said the tongue is “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” He went on to say that it’s not logical to think that you can bless God in one breath and spit out a steamy tirade of cussing that belittles your fellow man in your next breath:
No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, bear olives? Can a grapevine bear a fig? No, and no spring yields both salt water and fresh (3:8-12).”
The first 6 words in the verses above hold the key to taming the tongue. You can’t do it by focusing on what you say. You need to concentrate on the thought that precedes the talk.
If you fail to focus on the thought your talk will continue to conform to the profanity of the world. It’s when you begin to manage the mental component of communication that you can begin to experience a transformation of your tongue.
When you read this section of James, the insanity of profanity includes more than just cussing. The discussion also centers on any communication that’s vulgar, uncouth, and unrefined, and it includes gossip and lies.
Since “logos” takes into consideration both the spoken word and the thought behind the word, you can change your talk by changing your thought. Here are some tongue-taming thoughts for your consideration:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. . . and the God of peace will be with you. ~Philippians 4:8
The words that spring out of your mouth will be less salty and more pristine if the thoughts that precede them are noble, just, and pure. Take some time today to meditate on these things.