My husband and I were watching a commercial about a little boy’s desire to be a police officer, and it showed him actually living out that dream as an adult. I asked my husband, if he had ever desired to be a cop as a child? My husband replied “never.. I don’t like guns.” “The thought of having so much power in your hands scares me,” he continued. I thought “wow” the power of life and death in one’s hands is great responsibility. I pondered why we can easily see the power to kill from firearm possession; but it’s difficult for us to see the power “of life and death” that we possess every day.
The power I’m referring to is the power to speak either life or death over our lives and the lives of others. Our tongues are so powerful, and many of us abuse this power. What’s shocking is that many of us have no clue that our harsh and filthy tongue is actually sinful in the eyes of God.
A Harsh Tongue is Sinful
I too was ignorant of the power of my tongue, and why I had such a lack of control over it. I use to make allowances for my language: “Well it’s the truth”…. “They need to know I’m serious”… “I never heard the verse ‘thou shalt not curse’.” I not only had a filthy mouth, but I also spoke down to people. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I actually began to read the Bible for myself, and it wasn’t until then that I understood that my harsh tongue was a sin. Not only did I learned that my filthy tongue was a sin, but I also learned that the lack of control over my tongue was rooted in an even deeper sin. My desire is to challenge the “Cursing Christian” with the Word of God; by revealing Scriptures that speaks against profanity and harsh language, and finally reveal the root beneath the sin of a harsh tongue. My prayer is that we can all move forward with honoring God with our language on a daily basis.
The Book of James
The very first book of the Bible I read completely was the book of James. I was so excited, “I read a full book of the Bible!,” it was only 4 full pages, but that was more than I had ever read on my own. My journey to get into a routine of reading the bible not only sparked a love for the Word of God, but God had begun to reveal areas in my life that needed to change. First off… my tongue.
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:5-10)
“Thou shalt not Curse”
I read these first verses and immediately thought, there’s my “Thou shalt not curse!” I felt so convicted, and knew that I had to make some changes. The theme of the book of James is “Christianity in action” and James simply calls out “Christians who do not act like Christians.” So many thoughts came to mind as I read this passage: Why did this have to be the first book I read? Why is cursing so wrong? I wrestled with these verses and the question that challenged me the most:
“Can people tell that I am a Christian by the words I speak?”
For me, it was a humbling.. NO! James notes that the tongue “corrupts the whole body, sets the course of one’s life on fire” because “The Cursing Christian” is a complete contradiction. It should be unnatural for one who has eternal life, to speak death. It should be unnatural to praise God with one breath and with the next curse our neighbor.
Let’s take a look at the word “CURSE”- In the English language I immediately think of: spells, potions, damnation. In the Greek language, James uses the word katara (kat-ar’-ah) which means- curse, imprecation, or denouncing. The act of cursing was to inflict harm on another or wish evil upon them. When one was called out of their name, for example: “Female dog” it’s like you are wishing that upon their life.
Cursing goes beyond our language’s “swear words or profanity.” For example take a look at this phrase: “You will never be anything,” this phrase contains no “swear words,” but indeed speaks a curse over one’s life. A curse is simply the opposite of a blessing. Because of this power, James describes the unruly tongue as amongst one of the greatest evils, because it reveals a greater sin.
If you need a little more convincing here are a few more verses condemning harsh language:
1. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
2. Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:10-11)
3. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving (Ephesian 5:4)
The Root Beneath the Sin of a Harsh Tongue
“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37) This passage presented my “ahh ha” moment. I couldn’t control my tongue at the time because what I said was an overflow of my heart. Jesus says that we cannot tame our tongue because the way we speak is a reflection of what’s inside our hearts.
A Filthy Mouth = A Filthy Heart
I didn’t have a cursing problem, I had a heart problem. The root of my uncontrollable tongue was a heart full of hurt, unforgiveness, bitterness, and pride. Those deeper issues ruled my heart and therefore ruled my tongue. The way you speak is the truest revelation of your inner-self. Now after losing our temper, we can’t say “well God knows my heart,” because you have made your heart and all that it contains very clear.
Why are Our Words so Important to God?
The words we speak are so important to God because our ability to communicate is a gift from God. We were created in the image and likeness of God and many of the powers God possess with words, we also possess. Words are so important to God that:
- God created the heavens and the Earth simply through Speaking
- The Word of God became flesh in the person of Christ our Redeemer
- Through the confession of the mouth and belief in the heart of the gospel of Christ, man is saved.
Jesus is the Word, the Word creates, the Word saves… do you see why words are so important to God?!
What are we Allowing to Fill our Hearts?
Where do we go from here? Jesus plainly says that the “mouth speaks, what the heart is full of;” so what are we allowing to fill our hearts? Is it the music we listen to, TV shows, or books (fifty shades)? Is it hurt or unforgiveness? James says that it’s difficult to tame the tongue, but never impossible. With God’s grace and His Word we can overcome this struggle. We need to begin with allowing God to reign over our hearts.
Guard Our Gates (Eyes and Ears)
We need to evaluate the areas that impact us the most. What fills our ears and eyes will fill our hearts. For me it was music and unforgiveness that overwhelmed my heart. Many suggest that music has no influence on our heart or actions; but for me, it was impossible to stop cursing with constant inappropriate language flowing through my speakers. Knowing the root beneath filthy language, a filthy heart, also made it hard for me to continue to support that type of music.
Finally my most impactful weapon against my harsh tongue was the Word of God. I began a daily routine of reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God. As I learned that that we were all “made in the image of God” and “fearfully and wonderfully made,” it made it harder to raise my voice and call someone out of their name. As I learned that I am also made in the likeness of God who creates through speaking, I learned that I also have the ability to create or kill with my tongue. As my heart became filled with God’s truth, words of encouragement and blessings flowed out of me instead of curses and complaints.
Let’s all strive to honor God with the Words we speak. I pray you accept the challenge of fixing the root beneath our harsh tongue, which is a heart problem. I pray you: “ Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” (Romans 6: 12-13)
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