I am in James during my quiet times and notice that the book talks plenty about speech. After finishing the chapter, I thought about the American ideal of Freedom of Speech.

 

Here in America, we take our freedom of speech seriously. It doesn’t matter how extreme your point of view or how many people you may offend, you are free and protected to say whatever you want. It is freedom of speech that allows the relative safe spread of the gospel in the United States compared to the more eastern parts of the world.

 

This blog entry will not be a weighing of the pros and cons of the idea of free speech on a macro level but on the day-to-day interactions of individuals. Today, the idea of freedom of speech has been accepted on a personal level.  It is generally acceptable that any single person can say whatever they are feeling, no matter the situation. no matter the audience. Due to the acceptance of the idea of relativity, any feeling or idea expressed is valid. Thus any idea felt can be expressed because it is as right as any other idea.

 

Speak your mind. Speak out. All these things come from the ideal of a free tongue being a good thing, a positive thing… and in the case of facing injustice it is.

 

“Learn to do good! Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Isaiah 1:17 NASB

 

The above was said to an Israel that had turned from the living God to foreign gods. To speak for those that aren’t heard, a mouth must be opened yet a wide open mouth spewing whatever comes in the mind of a person is not encouraged.

 

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

James 1:19-20 NASB

 

Vent, talk it out, scream. These are today’s responses to anger. But the Bible does not preach this message. In fact, the Bible tells us that the tongue is an uncontrollable evil and we should be wary off our speech.

 

Behold:

 

“See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought to not be this way.”

 

James 3:8 NASB

 

Humanity has tame an conquered all the creatures on the earth. Since the time James was written, every other city has its own zoo yet no human can control an outburst of anger.

 

“I hate that guy.” “Go to hell.” “That idiot cut me off”…these are just some of the daily curses the average man struggles with each day. We all shrug these off as “just being angry” and “people are stupid” but Jesus has something else to say about these insults:

 

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

 

Matthew 5:21-22 NASB

 

This should blow minds open to how serious God is about sin and how lack luster we are about sin in comparison. The very reaction we take to murder, Jesus and God say we should take to anger. In God’s eyes, to call someone a ‘good-for-nothing’ or its modern day equivalent of ‘loser’…is guilty before the national level of court. To call someone a ‘fool’ or ‘idiot’ is to be worthy of hellfire.  Words a man casually says everyday earn him a seat in hell.

 

If it hasn’t gotten across by now, the reality is speaking freely can be dangerous. Let’s look at what Jesus says to the Pharisees about the reality of speech:

 

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give and accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

Matthew 12:33-36 NASB

 

That puts a lot of weigh on what comes out of our mouths.  Watching our mouth is an important. The mouth commits the only sin not covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age of in the age to come.”

 

Matthew 12: 20-32 NASB

 

How should a Christian speak? Is sarcasm, backbiting, and absent-minded curses worthy of Christ? Psalm 15 describes the person who may inhabit God’s heavenly kingdom.

 

“A Psalm of David. LORD, O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”

Psalm 15:1-5

 

At least two of those conditions have to do with speech. Clean and pure speech is a sign of those that will stand dwell with God yet in James the tongue is said to be uncontrollable and Jesus said in Matthew 15:16-20 that our words can defile us more than any dirt, mud, or other mess we may come in contact with. If a man can’t do anything about the tongue polluting his body and jeopardizing his standing before God, how can a man get to heaven? Jesus has the answer.

 

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

John 15:5-7 NASB

 

As He said, we can do nothing without Him but if we abide in Him we can ask whatever we wish and He’ll do it for us.

 

This includes taming the untamable tongue. And taming the tongue so that is does not bless and curse at the same time glorifies God, as Jesus continues:

 

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much frit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

John 15:8 NASB

 

So if you are His disciple, you must be wary of your speech and rush to Jesus when the tongue proves itself unruly. If you are not His disciple but seek a seat in Heaven, know that as Psalm 15 says, a mouth that slanders will not live with God in His kingdom so rush to Jesus, believe, and ask Him to cleanse you from sin.

 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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