Forsaking a Forked Tongue
James 3:9-12 says “9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”
Continuing on in James chapter 3 we see James’ conclusion to his first point on the tongue (other points come in chapters to come). In these verses we see a very common danger and fault with the tongue and some examples to emphasise the point being made.
Verse 9 says “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” The first word ‘therewith’ shows us that this is a continuation from previous verses which were discussing the tongue. Thus these verses are talking about the tongue too. The verse is therefore saying ‘with the tongue we bless God, and with the tongue we curse men, who are made in the image of God’. In a previous lesson I noted that the tongue was the Devil’s organ, and here is a picture of it. Think back to the garden of Eden, Satan used a snake, snakes have a split tongue; the devil uses our tongues, we have split tongues also (figuratively that is). With one fork of our tongue we bless God and all His blessings to us, with the other fork of our tongue we curse men and gossip about them. The bible does not just leave it as cursing men though; instead it says “which are made after the similitude of God”. We may bless God, but with the same tongue we curse His dearest creation.
Verse 10 gives us a clear and simple message. The verse says “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” The bible here points out the bare truth “out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing”. Two completely opposite things proceed from the mouth of men. What does the bible say about this? “My brethren, these things ought not to be so”. Simply put, it shouldn’t be like that. If we are blessing God we cannot be cursing men and if we are cursing men we cannot be blessing God. Our tongues are a one-way street, you can go one way or the other, but you can’t do both. For a Christian a forked tongue spewing conflicting speech is a big no-no.
Verses 11 and 12 go on to give examples. The verses say “11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” The first example is of a fountain. James asks a rhetorical question here by asking ‘does a spring gush with clean and pungent water at the same place?’ It is impossible for a natural spring to produce both clean and unclean water at the same place; it is either one or the other. The second example given is another rhetorical question. He asks ‘can a fig tree bear olives? Or can an olive vine bear figs?’ again there is the idea of continuity, a fig tree bears figs and an olive vine bears olives, it cannot bear anything other than its kind. The verse finishes “so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh”. The word ‘so’ means in like manner, so James is saying in a like manner can a spring not produce fresh and salt water. All of these examples show that two things cannot exist together. So what does this mean for us, what is the point being made?
The point is that our tongues cannot be blessing and cursing. If we have Jesus in our heart we will speak of Jesus and nothing unsatisfying to Him. We cannot go around blessing God and cursing His creation. Our tongues cannot contain both bitter and sweet words. The bible tells us in Matthew 12:34 that “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The things that are in our heart will come out in what we say. If we have love in our hearts, it will show in our speech; if we have hatred in our hearts, this too will show in our speech.
I cannot emphasise the importance of this point. It is no small matter. Your entire Christian witness hangs in the balance of your tongue. People, even though you may not think they do, listen to every word that you say. If people know you are a Christian but hear you going around talking about things of the world then is this an effective witness? You cannot have a forked tongue and be a Christian. You have to choose your words wisely. The saying ‘think before you speak’ is essential for any Christian. A little thought goes along way. Before you say something, think about who it will affect, what possible consequences it may hold, whether or not it’s glorifying to God and what it will do to your witness. Will your faith be shown through your words, or will people only hear the world?
Let me ask you today, how is your tongue? Is it forked? Do you have God on one side and the world on the other? If you do then know today that they cannot co-exist, eventually one will take over, why wait for it to be the world though, how about today getting alone with God and dedicating your tongue to Him? How about asking for His help to keep your tongue pure from evil and ask for help to know what to say. Your witness is controlled by your tongue; don’t let it be ruined by hasty and ill-chosen words. Don’t let blessing and cursing proceed from the same place. Find the love for Jesus in your heart and your tongue will speak the same. May people hear the gospel through you. Let me leave you with these verses:
Matthew 12:33-37 says “33Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. 34O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
Posted on October 1, 2012, in Andrew's Thoughts for the Day and tagged Bible, Christian, Devil, God, Gospel of Matthew, James, Religion and Spirituality, Satan. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.