The Big Mistake Your Tongue May Be Making

Erin Davis 05/02/13 | Twitter: @ErinGraffiti
Category: Myself ; 19 comments

Is your tongue on fire? That's the question I posed in Tuesday's blog post based on James 3:5–9. That passage says:

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.

gossipingJames was making a powerful point that we tend to forget—just like a single spark can burn a forest to the ground, our words (even just a few of them) have the power to destroy. If you take a minute to let James' words sink in, it's obvious that he's speaking the truth. You've been burned by the words of others, haven't you? And I bet you've allowed your words to singe others in return.

If we keep reading just a little bit further, we find a specific way our words can scald:

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

James specifically addresses "my brothers" in this verse, but I have a hunch that James knew a thing about girl-world when he penned these words. We're exceptionally good at spouting blessings and curses simultaneously. What might that sound like?

"She's really pretty, but she can be so stuck up."
"Yeah, she's nice, but sometimes she really gets on my nerves."
"She's such a flirt, but I just love her to death."

Blessings and curses coming out of the same mouth ... often in the same sentence. We girls know how to sugarcoat our burning words, don't we? But James simply reminds us that "these things ought not to be so."

In other words, stick to the blessings and ditch the curses all together. You've got no business using your words to tear down others, even if you wrap it in a compliment.

But sometimes, we just need to vent, right? After all, we're just being honest. If you've ever justified blessing and cursing that way, you need to check this out:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).

This verse draws a hard line in the sand. If it tears others down, don't say it. If it builds others up, do. Good advice in light of the fact that our tongues are a spark capable of setting an entire forest ablaze, huh?

‘Fraid you can't straddle the fence here—you can either seek to tame your restless tongue by sticking to words that bless and build up, or you can keep starting fires by cursing and tearing down. So take a look at that hard line, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you use your words to tear others down (even when they can't hear you)?
  2. Do you refuse to say anything that is unwholesome? That means that if it is harmful, impure, or unhelpful, you don't say it.
  3. Do you bless and curse at the same time? Do you wrap your put-downs in a compliment?


HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate.

    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 2:27 am
    I already knew I had a problem with judgement, but I did not realize till now, it is also a problem of my tongue. By judging others out loud I even make it worse. The worst thing is, most of the time I don't even see it as judging, I just see it as being honest, but not to the person itself, to other persons.. so it might also be a sort of gossip, although I alwas sort of say to myself, it is not gossip, because it is the thruth.. (in my opinion, gossip is about telling lies, but maybe what I do is gossip to).

    I often say, I like her, or she is a good person, but.... I think I have to stop it. Thanks for the lesson
    Mango Tango
    But what do I do?
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 4:52 am
    It's so hard to not sin because we are living in a fallen world and frankly, sinning is addictive. I first of all thank you for this post and ask you to pray that I would be able to be so full of God's love and that I would be able to share it with others so that I won't say mean things in the first place. I do this a lot. And it's addictive. I don't want to stop. But you know, it's pretty serious. However, what do you do when you don't like someone yet you speak good of them? Wouldn't you not mean it? Wouldn't it be lying?
    Thanks :))
    -Your sister in Christ
    Re:Mango Tango
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 9:15 am
    Well, you don't have to speak of them at all. If someone brings them up, you still should just nudge away the topic. But also, you should point out the good parts about them. Don't dwell on the negative, see the good. If people mention them, oh they are really good at this!...You know what I mean? Another, you should ask God to change your heart towards them. Pray that your heart changes, and then pray for that person. Not "This person can be really annoying, can you help them?" But pray they have a good day, that everything is ok in their life, etc. Your heart will change, i've had to do it twice in my life because i had some issues with some people. God helps!
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 9:16 am
    This is definitely an eye-opener!

    When you talked about wrapping things in a compliment, I realized that is exactly what I do. "He's really sweet sometimes, but other times I really don't like him." I say things like that a lot... I've heard other people say them as well, people that I look up to in my walk with God! We are saying those things like they are okay, and they're really not. I need to learn to control my tongue. I'm going to ask God to help me in this area, and help my Christian friends as well!

    Thank you for this post! :)
    Erin Davis
    Mango Tango
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 9:51 am
    Christina got it right. You don't have to say anything about that person at all. My guess is it's unlikely that anyone will come up to you and say "tell me exactly what you think about so and so." And if they do, I bet you can think of one positive thing to say.

    If it builds someone up say it, otherwise there's a saying I like to stick to "never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut."

    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 10:02 am
    I was listening to the radio yesterday and a song came on that was perfect for this topic. It is by Hawk Nelson and the song is called "Words." He talks about how our words can start a fire in someone's heart or put it out. It is definitely worth a listen. I think God is telling me something. I am going to work on catching myself before I say anything mean, especially to my brother. I think this song will help me and I wanted to share it so that someone else might benefit, too.
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 11:02 am
    This is something I need reminding of everyday! Thank you! Sadly though there are moments when you can be left out of conversations and groups when people realize that you no longer want to join in the "fun" of discussing negative things about others. I have been told on occasion that people feel weird around me because conversations can't be "fun". I find that I must reorient finding joy in my identity in Christ alone and not comparing with others, and only then will my conversations no longer have to degrade anyone else.
    thank you!
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 11:17 am
    I really appreciate this so many things we say we shouldn't actually say,thanks for the eye opener!
    Thank-you! And Prayer Request
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm
    Thank-you so much for this!
    This is a very random question but I could use a lot prayer for God to help me heal and forgive. I totally believe that we can either curse in a big way or bless in a big way.

    Have you ever heard of the Derek Prince ministries? I highly recommend that you check it out! He has a huge sermon on this! :) I know I need to be more careful about judging others as well. And hold my tongue. Thanks for the challenge and reminder! Thanks for the prayer's I appreciate it!!
    A song that relates
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm
    Hawk Nelson sings a great song called "Words," and the message of it goes along really well with what James says and this message on the blog. You should listen to it; it's a good song.
    Re: Anonymous
    on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm
    I didn't see your post before I commented. Guess we both are fans of the song!
    God's little princess
    on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm
    ooh wow.....i fail with my tongue Please pray for me!! I struggle so much with gossip :(
    Eye Opener
    on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm
    This post was an eye opener for me. I do have a tendency to judge people, even if I believe I am right to say those things.

    Someone I know does the "blessing and curses". She told me it was OK, since she said something good about them.

    I will try to remember those verses.

    (I love the Hawk Nelson song, "Words" :])
    Sarah, with the LYWB team
    on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 11:36 pm
    I have prayed for you tonight. I pray God will teach you and instruct you in forgiveness so that you might find healing. May you have wisdom in dealing with that which has hurt you. "For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul." (Proverbs 2:10)

    God bless you.
    Sarah, with the LYWB team
    @God's little princess...
    on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm
    You recognize that what you are doing by gossiping is wrong. In fact from the Scriptures above, it is very serious. I encourage you to stop it, God's little princess. God has already given you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter. 1:3). So, my encouragement to you is do whatever it takes to stop it. You can make a commitment and stop. It may not be easy, but you can stop. Perhaps you need to quote one of the verses to yourself every time you are tempted to gossip. Or maybe you need to bite your tongue each time. Or perhaps you need to give your mom a dollar each time you fail and gossip. Whatever it takes, stop it! Blessings to you.
    Melissa McMaster
    The mistake big mistake your tongue may be making
    on Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm
    This is something that we all need to be reminded of periodically because we sometimes lack self control which gives way to the tongue running haywire. The tongue is an important member of our body, but we have power and authority over anything that opposes the word of God. We must also remember that we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us, so we have power over our tongue. Thank you for this post it's definitely (food for thought), and it will make me more aware of what's rolling off of my tongue. <a href=""><a/>
    on Monday, May 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm
    Since we have free will, but we love God, then how come so many of us use our free will to use our tongues the wrong way?
    Lorree, with the LYWB team
    @ anonymous
    on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm
    Great question, Anonymous. Do you think it could possibly be that we haven’t surrendered that area of our lives to God? God says that the things that come out of our mouths are an overflow of our heart (Lk. 6:45). Could it be that we are cherishing sin in our hearts and we aren’t right with God? This is something for all of us to ponder and speak to God about. He knows our hearts and He can enable us to use our tongues in the right way as our hearts are right with Him.
    help me my anger is out of control
    on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 12:33 pm
    Please pray for me.
    I have been going through a season of sufferings, persecutions and to cope I vented. A lot. and during the venting I used crass, foul language, rages and hurled hateful profanity laden insults at those who hurt me and even those who didn't. I was/am still filled with so much rage and anguish. Please pray that I learn to tame my words/tongue and learn to forgive my enemies and not rage at Jesus and learn to trust Him more and not hate on haters so much. thanks so much,

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