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Life and death are in the power of the tongue. It is a curse and a scandalmonger, a deceiver and a liar. It has ruined many lives. The tongue has shaken many marriages, and has driven nations to war with one another.

It overturns the house of God and has members running from ecclesia to ecclesia to avoid its sting and to search for peace. It sows discord among brethren. It drives wives, and husbands, out of house and home, and deprives them of their due reward for labour, and of good relationships with their families. It separates parents from their children and children from their parents.

Those who wag their tongues in thoughtless haste will never know peace. The wrath of God will be upon them.

The stroke of a whip will give you a wound, but the stroke of an unbridled tongue will break your heart. A thousand may fall by the edge of the sword, but ten thousands by edge of the tongue. The pain and death it inflicts are immeasurable.

But it cannot gain hold over the man and woman of God because, even though a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit, the tongue of the wise brings healing (Prov. 15:4).

James has given us three tests of “pure religion”: (1) bridling the tongue; (2) caring for the needy; and (3) keeping oneself unspotted from the world (1:26,27). It is no surprise when he tells us that the most important of these is control of the tongue: “The tongue is a little member but boasts great things… The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity… It defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature… It is an unruly evil full of deadly poison” (James 3:5,6,8).

People of God, let us be conscious of the tongue. Ask God to tame the tongue. Keep strong in the Lord at all times, speaking always with grace. Speak the truth every man to his neighbour. Put away all lying. Confess Christ freely before men. Confess your faults one to another. Pray without ceasing, and be zealous to do good works. Read aloud the word of the Lord. Let Christ dwell in your heart by faith. Then, out of the fullness of the heart the mouth will speak. Only a grapevine can bear grapes. A pure spring can refresh the soul. Use your tongue for prayer, not scandal. Bless them that curse you. Pray for those who spitefully use you and afflict you. Only then will the tongue be clean. Only then will the tongue keep you from the “hell” of fire.

In closing, remember these words: Let the love of God enfold you; let the light of God surround you; let the presence of God watch over you. Then, and only then, will He – and not the “devil” within – rule over your tongue.

Rosita Wright, Clarendon, Jamaica

“Those who are full of their tongues seldom look well to their feet, and therefore stumble and fall” (Matthew Henry).

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