In our last visit we considered how James gave perspective regarding the tongue in chapter 3 of his book. Having done so, he also showed the perplexing consequences resulting from the use of the tongue. He explains that mixed messages come from mixed up hearts, verses 9-12.
There is something wrong when we praise God with our tongue, while at the same time, with the same tongue, we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness. He asks a rhetorical question, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” Obviously not! He continues, “Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?” No! His conclusion is clear, a bad spring cannot produce a good water supply.
If you curse it is obvious that there is something seriously wrong with the heart, even if at times you praise God. What he is saying is that effective conversation and worship are more than an art. If the tongue is not controlled your life is like a boat in a storm without a rudder. It is like a wild horse without a bit in its mouth.
The tongue is a very small member of the body, but like a spark that ignites a forest fire, the tongue can wreak havoc in your life and in the lives of those around you. James concludes this discussion on the tongue with verse 6, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person,” and verse 7, "It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
In spite of all this, God wants to use your tongue to bless others for His glory. We’ll discover how this happens in our next visit.