The Untamed Tongue

James

The Untamed Tongue

September 29th, 1974 @ 8:15 AM

James 3:1-12

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
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THE UNTAMED TONGUE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

James 3:1-12

9-29-74    8:15 a.m.

 

And welcome to the early service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, all of you who are listening and worshipping with us on radio.  This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Untamed Tongue.  It is an exposition of the first twelve verses of the third chapter of James.  In our preaching through this epistle, we have come to chapter 3, and these are the words of the inspired pastor of the church in Jerusalem and brother of the Lord:

My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall

receive the greater condemnation—the greater responsibility

is ours.

For in many things we offend all.  But if any man offend not in

word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the

whole body.

Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they

may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.

Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of

things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of

deadly poison.

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Doth a fountain send forth at the same time sweet water and bitter?

Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries?  either a vine, figs?

so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

[James 3:1-12]

As you can see from the passage, it is a very practical assignment that the pastor of the church is undertaking.  In the providence of God, the Lord gave to different apostles the development of different aspects of spiritual truth.  For example, God gave to Paul the development of the tremendous doctrine of grace, that we’re not saved by keeping a law, but we’re saved by trusting Jesus [Ephesians 2:8-9].

The Lord gave to the author of the Book of Hebrews the development of the doctrine of the atonement and priesthood of Christ.  God gave to the apostle John the assignment of developing and furthering the doctrine of the deity of our Lord and of the love of our Father in heaven.

And God, the same Lord gave to James, the pastor of the church, the development of the practical aspects of the Christian faith.  He is a man of great moral rectitude, he was called “James the Just” in secular history; and as such, he writes of the practical things that pertain to our Christian life.  And in this third chapter, he is discussing our words, our tongue [James 3:1-12].

He points out to us in the first place, that the tongue can change the direction and course of life, and of destiny, and of history.  And he illustrates it: a tremendously big, strong, horse can be turned about by just a small bit in his mouth [James 3:3].  A great ship can be guided, its course changed by a little rudder a little helm [James 3:4]; and a tremendous fire can be built by just a little spark.  How big a thing a little spark can kindle! [James 3:5].

That is so true.  It is possible for a man to deceive another by changing the signs to the cities of refuge.  It is possible for man to repeat an untruth, and so destroy the life of another.  As you know, some of the great dramas of Shakespeare are his tragedies that are built around the believing of a lie.  And not only can life and destiny be changed by the tongue, the word, but also there is the possibility of utter and absolute destruction in a word and an untruth that can be said.

In the eighth verse, he says, “The tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” [James 3:8].  There are many people who have never set fire to a man burned at the stake.  They never clapped their hands at the agony of those whose vital organs were being torn apart by a ravenous lion.  They never beat the drums to drown out the shrieks of those who were being offered up to the fire god, Molech.  But they have destroyed the life and happiness of neighbors and acquaintances by what they have said.

Saying an untruth that is vicious and vile, or repeating a falsehood that is a half-truth, or by the shrug of a shoulder, or a turn of the lip, or an arching of the eyebrow to decimate character; I don’t think there’s one of us but has felt the sting and the hurt of someone who has said something about us that is untrue.  No one of us escapes it in this life.

There was a saintly member of a little church that went to the Quaker pastor and said to him, “Doth not thee think that one could live so beautifully, and walk so correctly, and avoid evil so perfectly, that all who seeing that one would like that kind of religion?”  And the Quaker minister replied, “Sister, if thee had a coat of feathers as white as the driven snow, and if thee had a pair of wings as shining as Gabriel’s, and if thee walked as beautifully and as spotlessly as the Lord Himself, there are on this footstool some who are so colorblind as to shoot thee for a blackbird.”

There is no escaping the hurt of the unruly tongue, full of deadly poison [James 3:8].  And with that instrument, we curse men.  The pastor says we bless God and with the same instrument we curse men [James 3:9].  Isn’t that an unusual thing, that the instrument is capable of such violent antipathies, diametrical opposites?  We can bless God, and with the same instrument, we can curse men, who are made after the similitude of God.  What a tragedy.  What a shame.

There was a woman who scattered over the town, a terrible untruth about another woman, and brought to that other woman, misery, agony, suffering.  It was found that the thing she said was not true; how could she make atonement?  She went to a sage and asked him.  And he said, “Take a pillow of feathers and scatter them over the town.”  She did, and she came back to the sage and said, “Now, what shall I do?”  And he said, “Go back and gather them up,” an impossibility.  So it is with the words that are scattered abroad.  When they are untrue, it is impossible to gather them back.  It is an instrument by which we curse men [James 3:9].  But what is astonishing to me, as I read the passage, is the repercussion that it has in one’s own life, how it affects us.  It’s easy to see the destruction that it brings to others; but, oh, how it affects us!

“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity . . . it defileth the whole body” [James 3:6].  Isn’t that a strange thing?  He’s not talking about how it hurts somebody else.  He’s not talking about how it affects somebody else.  He’s not talking about how it curses or ruins somebody else.  He’s talking about how it affects us.  “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…among our members . . . it defileth the whole body” [James 3:6] the effect that what I say—what I ought not to say—the effect that it has upon me.

Could I tell you something that I am ashamed of?  There came a man by the parsonage where we live to leave a present for me.  And while I was visiting with him, he said, “I’m on my way, I can’t tarry.  I’m on my way to see such-and-such man.  He once was a preacher, and he’s now having lots of troubles, and I’m on my way to see him.”

And I said, “Yes, I know.  He’s having lots of troubles.”  And I started to recount a sordid tale that had ruined his ministry.  Evidently not realizing that I was intending to speak, he broke in and said about that man, “Yes, he’s having lots of troubles, and he’s sick, and I’m going to see him.  For you see,” he said to me, “he’s the man that won me to Christ.  There wasn’t anybody that paid any attention to me.  Nobody ever sought me out.  Nobody ever talked to me about the Lord, but he did.  And he was kind to me and good to me.  And he made appeal to me for Christ.  And under him, I accepted the Lord as my Savior.  And I’ve loved him ever since, and I’m going to see him because he’s sick and he’s having lots of troubles.”

And the man left on his way, and I never felt so inwardly wretched in my life.  Why repeat the sordid tale?  What elevation or blessing to say it?  And the effect it had upon me, when I looked at what I was proposing to do, made me feel unclean.  I felt I needed washing, God’s forgiveness.

If you see a tall fellow ahead of the crowd,

A leader of the group, marching fearless and proud,

And you know of a tale whose mere telling aloud

Would cause his proud head in anguish be bowed,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a skeleton hidden away

In a closet, guarded and kept from the day

In the dark, whose showing—whose sudden display,

Would cause grief and sorrow and life-long dismay,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a spot in the life of a friend—

we all have spots concealed, world without end—

Whose touching his heartstring would hurt or rend,

‘Til the shame of it showing, no grieving could mend,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a thing that will darken joy

Of a man, or a woman, or a girl, or a boy,

That will wipe out a smile or the least way annoy

A fellow, or cause any gladness to cloy,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

[“Forget It,” Judd Mortimer Lewis, 1921]

If I cannot bless and help and encourage by what I say, forget it—leave it unsaid.  Leave it to God; He knows.  He will judge, “I will recompense, saith the Lord” [Hebrews 10:30].  But it’s not mine; my part is to bring goodness and blessing and encouragement, and never hurt and agony and suffering.

Not only that, but he says that “it sets on fire the course of nature,” and is “set on fire of Gehenna” [James 3:6].  You’d never know what that actually was by looking at it here, “the course of nature.”  The word, trochos, is the ordinary Greek word for wheel, translated here, “course of nature,” trochos, wheel of nature; and it’s a word that refers to the world around us.  And he says that wheel can be “set on fire of Gehenna” [James 3:6].  Now, the imagery is an unusual and an expressive one.  The imagery is of a chariot or some kind of a wagon.  And as it runs furiously, and increasingly more furiously, the axle catches afire; and it catches the wheel afire, and the fire is scattered out; it is spread abroad.  Isn’t that an unusual imagery?  And he says our words are like that; they bring destruction.  And the wheel, as it furiously turns, and as it furiously moves, itself is set on fire of Gehenna; just scattering burning, scattering hurt, scattering fire, scattering devastation [James 3:6].  And of course, the man himself, riding in the chariot or in the wagon himself, jeopardized by what is happening; isn’t this an unusual thing?

And he says that, that “the tongue can no man tame” [James 3:8].  All the other things we know in life can be tamed, but the tongue is untamable, unruly, full of deadly poison [James 3:8].  That is, it is uncontrollable: my words, I can’t bring back; my sentences, I can’t recall.  And when it is out of control, it is of all things an unruly evil [James 3:8].

Then he closes; out of the same mouth, a man can bless and curse, “My brethren, these things ought not so to be” [James 3:10].  Now, he’s going to speak about the unnaturalness of it, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? [James 3:11]. Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olives? or a vine, figs?  so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” [James 3:12].  Well, you’d think, “Well, what does that have to do with the subject?  He just seems to be gone off talking about something else.”  No, having talked about the uncontrollableness of the tongue, it’s just beyond us when we say words.  We can’t gather them up again.  We have no control of them after they’re said.  There are repercussions from heart to heart, tongue to tongue.  It’s beyond us.

Then he’s describing here its unnaturalness; that is, the pastor is saying that all wrong, sin, is unnatural.  God didn’t intend it.  It’s not according to how God makes things and put things together [James 3:9-10].  Then he illustrates it: God never made it that on a grapevine we gather olives, and God never made it that on an olive tree we gather figs.  God made it that the vine produces grapes, a fig tree figs, and an olive tree olives.  God made it that way, and it is unnatural if it is the other way—that we’d gather figs or olives off of a grapevine [James 3:12].  Now, that’s what he’s saying about how God made us.  He’s saying that the way God made us is to use the tongue to bless God and to bless men [James 3:9-10].  And when we use our words to hurt others, it is not what God intended.  It is unnatural.  That’s the simple thing that he’s saying.

So, if I speak, and if I use words as God intended, I will use words that will bless God and bless men.  It is by our mouths, by our words, that we profess our faith in Jesus.  That’s what I ought to do:

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth, Jesus is Lord,

And believe in thine heart that He lives, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart we believe; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

[Romans 10:9-10]

I ought to take my words, and I ought to confess my faith in Jesus.  With my words, with my sentences, with my mouth, I ought to witness to Jesus.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” [Revelation 12:11].  “The word of their testimony,” our words God can use to defeat Satan and bring in God’s kingdom in the hearts of men.  Isn’t that a remarkable thing?  Not by swords and not by materialities, but by our words we witness to the goodness and grace of God.  And by our words we pray to our heavenly Father, and we talk to Jesus, and we tell our sweet Savior all the things that are in our souls.

That’s why the pastor says, for us to take our tongues and our words by which we talk to Jesus, take that same tongue and those same words and use them to hurt other people—he says it’s contrary to the will of God for our lives.  So the pastor James would say, “With the tongue, with the words by which we bless God, with the same tongue, and the same words, let us bless men” [James 3:10].  And if somebody does you evil, our Lord would say, “Say words of sweetness and forgiveness to those who despitefully use you and say evil about you” [Matthew 5:44].  Let the same spirit and the same nomenclature, the same language, by which we love God and speak to Jesus, let that be the same language we use with one another.

I close with the sweetest prayer, the nineteenth Psalm, “Let the words of my mouth—let the words of my mouth, as well as the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O God, my Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer” [Psalm 19:14].  May my conscience smite me when I begin to say a word of hurt.  But may God help me, and bless me when I say words of encouragement, witnessing to the love [Galatians 2:20] and mercy of Jesus [Titus 3:5].

Our time is gone, and we must sing our hymn of appeal.  Thus to confess our

Lord with your mouth: “Pastor, I take Him as my Savior today,” would you come? [Romans 10:9-13].  And  thus to witness to the saving grace of the Lord in your life, would you come? [Ephesians 2:8]. “Here I am, pastor, openly and publicly, standing before angels and men, devoting my life to the goodness and the grace of Jesus.  I’m coming this morning.”  On the first note of the first stanza come, while we stand and while we sing.

THE UNTAMED TONGUE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

James 3:1-12

9-29-74    8:15 a.m.

And welcome to the early service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, all of you who are listening and worshipping with us on radio.  This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Untamed Tongue.  It is an exposition of the first twelve verses of the third chapter of James.  In our preaching through this epistle, we have come to chapter 3, and these are the words of the inspired pastor of the church in Jerusalem and brother of the Lord:

My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall

receive the greater condemnation – the greater responsibility

is ours.

For in many things we offend all.  But if any man offend not in

word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the

whole body.

Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they

may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.

Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of

things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of

deadly poison.

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Doth a fountain send forth at the same time sweet water and bitter?

Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries?  either a vine, figs?

so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

[James 3:1-12]

As you can see from the passage, it is a very practical assignment that the pastor of the church is undertaking.  In the providence of God, the Lord gave to different apostles the development of different aspects of spiritual truth.  For example, God gave to Paul the development of the tremendous doctrine of grace, that we’re not saved by keeping a law, but we’re saved by trusting Jesus [Ephesians 2:8-9].

The Lord gave to the author of the Book of Hebrews the development of the doctrine of the atonement and priesthood of Christ.  God gave to the apostle John the assignment of developing and furthering the doctrine of the deity of our Lord and of the love of our Father in heaven.

And God, the same Lord gave to James, the pastor of the church, the development of the practical aspects of the Christian faith.  He is a man of great moral rectitude, he was called “James the Just” in secular history; and as such, he writes of the practical things that pertain to our Christian life.  And in this third chapter, he is discussing our words, our tongue.

He points out to us in the first place, that the tongue can change the direction and course of life, and of destiny, and of history.  And he illustrates it: a tremendously big, strong, horse can be turned about by just a small bit in his mouth [James 3:3].  A great ship can be guided, its course changed by a little rudder a little helm [James 3:4]; and a tremendous fire can be built by just a little spark.  How big a thing a little spark can kindle! [James 3:5].

That is so true.  It is possible for a man to deceive another by changing the signs to the cities of refuge.  It is possible for man to repeat an untruth, and so destroy the life of another.  As you know, some of the great dramas of Shakespeare are his tragedies that are built around the believing of a lie.  And not only can life and destiny be changed by the tongue, the word, but also there is the possibility of utter and absolute destruction in a word and an untruth that can be said.

In the eighth verse, he says, “The tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” [James 3:8].  There are many people who have never set fire to a man burned at the stake.  They never clapped their hands at the agony of those whose vital organs were being torn apart by a ravenous lion.  They never beat the drums to drown out the shrieks of those who were being offered up to the fire god, Molech.  But they have destroyed the life and happiness of neighbors and acquaintances by what they have said.

Saying an untruth that is vicious and vile, or repeating a falsehood that is a half-truth, or by the shrug of a shoulder, or a turn of the lip, or an arching of the eyebrow to decimate character; I don’t think there’s one of us but has felt the sting and the hurt of someone who has said something about us that is untrue.  No one of us escapes it in this life.

There was a saintly member of a little church that went to the Quaker pastor and said to him, “Doth not thee think that one could live so beautifully, and walk so correctly, and avoid evil so perfectly, that all who seeing that one would like that kind of religion?”  And the Quaker minister replied, “Sister, if thee had a coat of feathers as white as the driven snow, and if thee had a pair of wings as shining as Gabriel’s, and if thee walked as beautifully and as spotlessly as the Lord Himself, there are on this footstool some who are so colorblind as to shoot thee for a blackbird.”

There is no escaping the hurt of the unruly tongue full of deadly poison.  And with that instrument, we curse men.  The pastor says we bless God and with the same instrument we curse men [James 3:9].  Isn’t that an unusual thing that the instrument is capable of such violent antipathies, diametrical opposites?  We can bless God and with the same instrument, we can curse men, who are made after the similitude of God.  What a tragedy.  What a shame.

There was a woman who scattered over the town, a terrible untruth about another woman, and brought to that other woman, misery, agony, suffering.  It was found that the thing she said was not true; how could she make atonement?  She went to a sage and asked him.  And he said, “Take a pillow of feathers and scatter them over the town.”  She did, and she came back to the sage and said, “Now, what shall I do?”  And he said, “Go back and gather them up,” an impossibility.  So it is with the words that are scattered abroad.  When they are untrue, it is impossible to gather them back.  It is an instrument by which we curse men.  But what is astonishing to me, as I read the passage, is the repercussion that it has in one’s own life, how it affects us.  It’s easy to see the destruction that it brings to others; but, oh, how it affects us!

“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,it defileth the whole body” [James 3:6].  Isn’t that a strange thing?  He’s not talking about how it hurts somebody else.  He’s not talking about how it affects somebody else.  He’s not talking about how it curses or ruins somebody else.  He’s talking about how it affects us.  “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,among our members,it defileth the whole body,” the effect that what I say – what I ought not to say, the effect that it has upon me.

Could I tell you something that I am ashamed of?  There came a man by the parsonage where we live to leave a present for me.  And while I was visiting with him, he said, “I’m on my way, I can’t tarry.  I’m on my way to see such-and-such man.  He once was a preacher, and he’s now having lots of troubles, and I’m on my way to see him.”

And I said, “Yes, I know.  He’s having lots of troubles.”  And I started to recount a sordid tale that had ruined his ministry.  Evidently not realizing that I was intending to speak, he broke in and said about that man, “Yes, he’s having lots of troubles, and he’s sick, and I’m going to see him.  For you see,” he said to me, “he’s the man that won me to Christ.  There wasn’t anybody that paid any attention to me.  Nobody ever sought me out.  Nobody ever talked to me about the Lord, but he did.  And he was kind to me and good to me.  And he made appeal to me for Christ.  And under him, I accepted the Lord as my Savior.  And I’ve loved him ever since, and I’m going to see him because he’s sick and he’s having lots of troubles.”

And the man left on his way, and I never felt so inwardly wretched in my life.  Why repeat the sordid tale?  What elevation or blessing to say it?  And the effect it had upon me, when I looked at what I was proposing to do, made me feel unclean.  I felt I needed washing, God’s forgiveness.

If you see a tall fellow ahead of the crowd,

A leader of the group, marching fearless and proud,

And you know of a tale whose mere telling aloud

Would cause his proud head in anguish be bowed,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a skeleton hidden away

In a closet, guarded and kept from the day

In the dark, whose showing – whose sudden display,

Would cause grief and sorrow and life-long dismay,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a spot in the life of a friend –

We all have spots concealed, world without end:

Whose touching his heartstring would hurt or rend,

‘Til the shame of it showing, no grieving could mend,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a thing that will darken joy

Of a man, or a woman, or a girl, or a boy,

That will wipe out a smile or the least way annoy

A fellow, or cause any gladness to cloy,

It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

[“Forget It”; Judd Mortimer Lewis, 1921]

 

If I cannot bless and help and encourage by what I say, forget it – leave it unsaid.  Leave it to God; He knows.  He will judge, “I will recompense, said the Lord” [Hebrews 10:30].  But it’s not mine; my part is to bring goodness and blessing and encouragement, and never hurt and agony and suffering.

Not only that, but he says that “it sets on fire the course of nature,” and is “set on fire of Gehenna” [James 3:6].  You’d never know what that actually was by looking at it here, “the course of nature.”  The word, trochos, is the ordinary Greek word for wheel, translated here, “course of nature,” trochos, wheel of nature; and it’s a word that refers to the world around us.  And he says that wheel can be “set on fire of Gehenna.”  Now, the imagery is an unusual and an expressive one.  The imagery is of a chariot or some kind of a wagon.  And as it runs furiously, and increasingly more furiously, the axle catches afire; and it catches the wheel afire, and the fire is scattered out; it is spread abroad.  Isn’t that an unusual imagery?  And he says our words are like that; they bring destruction.  And the wheel, as it furiously turns, and as it furiously moves, itself is set on fire of Gehenna; just scattering burning, scattering hurt, scattering fire, scattering devastation [James 3:6].  And of course, the man himself, riding in the chariot or in the wagon himself, jeopardized by what is happening; isn’t this an unusual thing?

And he says that, that “the tongue can no man tame” [James 3:8].  All the other things we know in life can be tamed, but the tongue is untamable, unruly, full of deadly poison.  That is, it is uncontrollable: my words, I can’t bring back; my sentences, I can’t recall.  And when it is out of control, it is of all things an unruly evil.

Then he closes; out of the same mouth, a man can bless and curse, “My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”  Now, he’s going to speak about the unnaturalness of it, “Doth the fountain send forth, at the same place, sweet water and bitter?  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olives? or a vine, figs?  so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” [James 3:10-12].  Well, you’d think, “Well, what does that have to do with the subject?  He just seems to be gone off talking about something else.”  No, having talked about the uncontrollableness of the tongue, it’s just beyond us when we say words.  We can’t gather them up again.  We have no control of them after they’re said.  There are repercussions from heart to heart, tongue to tongue.  It’s beyond us.

Then he’s describing here its unnaturalness; that is, the pastor is saying that all wrong, sin, is unnatural.  God didn’t intend it.  It’s not according to how God makes things and put things together.  Then he illustrates it: God never made it that on a grapevine we gather olives, and God never made it that on an olive tree we gather figs.  God made it that the vine produces grapes, a fig tree figs, and an olive tree olives.  God made it that way, and it is unnatural if it is the other way – that we’d gather figs or olives off of a grapevine.  Now, that’s what he’s saying about how God made us.  He’s saying that the way God made us is to use the tongue to bless God and to bless men.  And when we use our words to hurt others, it is not what God intended.  It is unnatural.  That’s the simple thing that he’s saying.

So, if I speak, and if I use words as God intended, I will use words that will bless God and bless men.  It is by our mouths, by our words, that we profess our faith in Jesus.  That’s what I ought to do:

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth, Jesus is Lord,

And believe in thine heart that He lives, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart we believe; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

[Romans 10:9-10]

I ought to take my words, and I ought to confess my faith in Jesus.  With my words, with my sentences, with my mouth, I ought to witness to Jesus.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” [Revelation 12:11].  “The word of their testimony,” our words God can use to defeat Satan and bring in God’s kingdom in the hearts of men.  Isn’t that a remarkable thing?  Not by swords and not by materialities, but by our words we witness to the goodness and grace of God.  And by our words we pray to our heavenly Father, and we talk to Jesus, and we tell our sweet Savior all the things that are in our souls.

That’s why the pastor says, for us to take our tongues and our words by which we talk to Jesus, take that same tongue and those same words and use them to hurt other people – he says it’s contrary to the will of God for our lives.  So the pastor James would say, “With the tongue, with the words by which we bless God, with the same tongue, and the same words, let us bless men” [James 3:10].  And if somebody does you evil, our Lord would say, “Say words of sweetness and forgiveness to those who despitefully use you and say evil about you” [Matthew 5:44].  Let the same spirit and the same nomenclature, the same language, by which we love God and speak to Jesus, let that be the same language we use with one another.

I close with the sweetest prayer, the nineteenth Psalm, “Let the words of my mouth – let the words of my mouth, as well as the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O God, my Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer” [Psalm 19:14].  May my conscience smite me when I begin to say a word of hurt.  But may God help me, and bless me when I say words of encouragement, witnessing to the love and mercy of Jesus.

Our time is gone, and we must sing our hymn of appeal.  Thus to confess our

Lord with your mouth: “Pastor, I take Him as my Savior today,” would you come?  And thus to witness to the saving grace of the Lord in your life, would you come?  “Here I am, pastor, openly and publicly, standing before angels and men, devoting my life to the goodness and the grace of Jesus.  I’m coming this morning.”  On the first note of the first stanza come, while we stand and while we sing.