A University of Arizona study revealed that the average woman spoke 16,215 words a day, and the average man spoke 15,669 words a day. The study also revealed that very talkative people speak 47,000 words a day. That’s a lot of words.
How much thought do you put into the words you use?
Sometimes it’s not what we say but how we say it that has a negative impact. As followers of Jesus, our speech needs to be seasoned with humility. Arrogant speech, even when our words are true, is always wrong.
“36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,” Matthew 12:36
This is why we are to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Have you been hurt by someone’s emotional outbursts and carry the scars of bitterness and offense? How often do we use emotionally charged words, when we should have waited until we were calm and give a tempered response?
The outcome of this judgment does not affect our entrance into heaven but determines our heavenly rewards. You may think, “well, as long as I make it to heaven and avoid hell, I’m not that concerned about rewards.”
That would be faulty logic because if our deeds are so important to God that He is going to address and reward them, it should be a big deal to you and me. Use your words wisely.
In James 3:1-12, James gives three illustrations on the positive and negative influence our tongue can have. The “tongue” is a euphemism for our words.
His illustrations highlight the size of the tongue and the control it has over objects comparably larger than itself. The tongue is compared to the rudder of a ship; a bit put into the mouth of a horse and a spark of fire.
When a rudder, a bit in a horse’s mouth or a spark of fire, is under control, they are constructive. James drops a bomb in verse 8, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
“Is there any hope??”
The word translates as restless means shapeless, without form. An uncontrolled tongue lacks discipline and causes destruction. It has no boundaries or limits that keep our speech constructive and encouraging.
We may not be able to tame the tongue, but we can control it.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.
As a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. He is there to help you produce fruit that aligns with your faith in God. We nurture self-control through obedience.
If you’re struggling with self-control, it’s because you are watering and cultivating restlessness. What you feed will live, and what you starve will die.
The fruit of the Spirit grows by one obedient decision at a time.
Disobedience uproots the fruit of self-control.
An uncontrolled tongue is said to be set on fire by hell itself. The word translated as hell from the Greek text carried a very vivid image for the original listeners. Hell is translated from the word ghenna.
“Ghenna” was an area located outside of Jerusalem where people brought their trash as it burned day and night. The heat and the stench of that fire was an on-point illustration of the destruction and stench of careless words.
Our tongue, when not controlled, burns day and night, destroying everything it touches. This is counter-intuitive to the character of a follower of Jesus. Choose to develop the disciple of self-control and use your words to build others up and not tear them down.
**if you’re interested in listening to this talk spoken this past weekend, click the link here.