Dear Brethren,

“But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” James 3:8

Do Not Backbite!

We often sin against God and one another in our words. It is so easy to have a loose tongue to backbite others. Backbite simply means to speak evil about another person (i.e. to bite them) from their back while they are not present. We do that to make ourselves look righteous in front of others while the person whom we backbite looks sinful. Often such thoughtless and hurtful words lead to broken relationship and the Christian testimony of love and unity is affected. How not to sin against God and one another by not backbiting and gossiping? Heavenly wisdom is particularly required in our words and speeches.  In order to do that, we must know how to control our tongue. The apostle James exhorted us to exercise wisdom in taming our tongue so as not to offend others. Though the tongue is only one small organ of the body but it actually exercises a lot of power.  And if we can control our tongue, then we can control our whole body.

Look at our Ears and Mouth!

When God created us, He created us with two ears and one mouth, and not two mouths and one ear.  What does this tell you?  We should learn to hear more than we speak.  And again, take a look at the ears.  The ears are always opened but the mouth is often shut.  Now what does this tell you?  We should always be ready to receive instruction. Take a look at the mouth. It is hedged with a double row of teeth to keep it within proper bounds. We have to be careful of what we say.  The apostle James noted also that “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).  Thus, no man can be considered a true man of faith, if he does not control his tongue.

Tame your Tongue when you are Agitated

We often sinned with our tongue when we get agitated. And this is especially true when we are provoked and got angry. We raise our voice and lash out at others in our anger. And when our fury subsided, we often felt angry with ourselves for not being able to control our anger to the detriment of our loved ones. Yes, there may be times where there is a good reason to get angry. But whether we have good reasons to be angry or not, we need to take heed to the warning of the Bible : “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph 4:26).  The “sin not” would also encompass not sinning against God and others with our words and speeches.

Withhold your tongue from speaking evil in your anger.  Learn to think through your words thoroughly before you utter them.  Listen to the instruction from Proverbs : “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things” (Prov 15:28).  And if you have truly nothing good to say, then it is better for you to shut your mouth then expose your folly. Again listen to the instruction in the Book of Proverbs: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Prov 17:28).  For the more we speak in anger, the more likely we could sin against God : “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Prov 10:19).

The tongue is a small but powerful weapon. Learn to tame it by God’s grace and not let it ruin you and your Christian testimony. Use it to praise God rather than curse men. Use it to encourage and bless others rather than to backbite and gossip against others. May the Lord grant us wisdom in our speech that it may edify others and bring glory unto Him!

Elder John Leong