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Resolutions for My Tongue.

If you've known me awhile, you're probably aware of my speech issues. Over the past few months God has been teaching me to “bridle” my tongue, to use James’ language.  Like most learning periods, this surely has been a trying one. But thanks be to God for His continuous patience with me. He is faithful to have not let me continue in my tendencies to be dishonest, prideful, and hurtful with my tongue. I am thankful that His love for me is steadfast, and that He does not let me flee the fold – for He bought me for Himself at the cost of Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the Word of God that thoroughly convicts me and help me grow. 

One of the means God has used me to help me grow is the book of James. Interestingly, I had to give a talk at a campus ministry tonight on James 3:1-12. James, the half brother of Jesus, addresses what is the longest section on the tongue in all of New Testament:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 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. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

In verses 1-2, James discusses the difficulty of taming the tongue and issues warnings for those who aspire to teach. In verses 3-8, he gives vivid illustrations of the power of the tongue and goes on to describe the destructive nature of the tongue. He then goes on to show the deadly inconsistencies that plague the tongue in verses 8-12. However, the passage provides no explicit resolution to the problem. But a careful survey of the entire book of James directs one to 20 or more resolves, as Dr. Sinclair Ferguson observes in one of his sermons.

These 20 resolves have helped me draw applications from the book of James. It is my hope that sharing them would be of immense help to some of those reading:

#1 To ask God for wisdom to speak and to do so with a single minded devotion. (James 1:5–8).

#2 To boast only in my exaltation in Christ or my humiliation in the world. (James 1:9–10).

#3 To set a watch over my mouth. (James 1:13).

#4 To be constantly quick to hear, slow to speak. (James 1:19).

#5 To learn the gospel way of speaking to the poor and the rich. (James 2:1–4).

#6 To speak in the consciousness of the final judgment. (James 2:12).

#7 To never stand on anyone’s face with words that demean, despise, or cause despair. (James 2:15–16).

#8: To never claim a reality I do not experience. (James 3:14).

#9 To resist quarrelsome words as marks of a bad heart. (James 4:1).

#10 To never speak evil of another. (James 4:11).

#11 To never boast in what I will accomplish.(James 4:13).

#12 To always speak as one who is subject to the providences of God. (James 4:15).

#13 To never grumble, knowing that the Judge is at the door. (James 5:9).

#14 To never allow anything but total integrity in my speech. (James 5:12).

#15 To speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer. (James 5:13).

#16 To sing praises to God whenever I am cheerful. (James 5:13).

#17: To ask for the prayers of others when I am sick. (James 5:14).

#18 To confess it whenever I have failed. (James 5:16).

#19 To pray for one another when I am together with others in need.(James 5:16).

#20 To speak words of restoration when I see another wander.(James 5:19–20).

While I strive toward spiritual maturity in regards to controlling my tongue, I am convinced that He will complete the work He started in me. I look forward to a day when I'm fully rid of my sins, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; a day from which I’ll sing praises to Him for all eternity.


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