Taming the Tongue: James Study (Part 4)

In March, we discussed genuine faith and how it will lead to a life of obedience. The rest of James is going to be considering several areas of our lives where obedience is necessary. These areas we'll read about tend to be a struggle amongst Christians. This month, we're going to be looking at the trouble of the tongue and taming it.

How many words do you think the average person says in a lifetime? Over 800 million words!

People talk a LOT. The tongue (our words) can either be used for good or for evil/destruction. Christians should be using our tongues wisely to make peace, not to cause conflict. The tongue has a lot more power than people probably realize. We grow up hearing the saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." While it's true that words can't physically harm us, they can still be destructive. James actually uses half of this section on our tongues to emphasize how powerful the tongue is for influence and impact. "So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things." (v 5). Let's look at a couple of the examples James uses to illustrate the power of the tongue.

The average size of a horse is 900-1200 lbs and yet they can be controlled by such a small thing in their mouth. It doesn't just control part of their body, it guides their whole body.

Here's another example of something large, in this case a ship, that can be controlled by such a small thing, a rudder. While the pilot (or captain) of the ship directs the movement, it's the rudder that controls where the ship is directed.

We now understand how powerful the tongue is. Though small, it can have a large impact on the body. If something powerful isn't controlled, it can be destructive. Let's see what James has to say about the tongues destruction:

I grew up in the desert in Southern Arizona. I've seen several wildfires while I lived there and have seen how fast a small fire can spread. In 2020, there was the Bighorn Fire that was on the mountains near where I lived. This started out small from a lightning strike and ended up burning over 100k acres (burning for over a month). Again, James is emphasizing how much of an impact and how much destruction can happen even with something so small.

A look back at the Bighorn Fire in photos
The Bighorn Fire consumed much of the Santa Catalina mountain range after an innocuous lightning strike late on June 5, 2020. It became a daily spectacle – visible from the

James compares our words to a blazing fire and deadly poison. Words can start a war, end a marriage, make you lose a job… Our words can cause a lot of destruction!

James then spends the last part of this section talking about the tension in our use of the tongue. The tongue does two things at once – blessing and cursing.

We should not be using our tongue to bless God and curse people! The two are opposites and shouldn't go together. James shares other absurd things that don't go together:

The examples used by James are all obvious things that do not go together. The same should be true for our words. We should not be using our words for destruction and blessing God.

Before wrapping up, I want to jump back up to verses 7-8, "For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." We can't control our tongue on our own. If it's currently being used for evil, we must first examine our heart and get it right with God. If we're having issues with our words, we need to check our heart and change that before we are going to see a change with our words.

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." - Matthew 12:34b
"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." - Luke 6:45

Your words are a product of the things that dwell in your heart. While people might not be destructive with their physical words, people do use social media for evil. Cyberbullying has become a prominent issue because people are more comfortable behind a screen saying things that they might not say in person. Regardless of if the words come directly from your physical mouth or you write/type them out, it's still a reflection of what's in your heart. Gossiping is a very common thing that most people get caught up in. Sometimes it honestly doesn't seem like it's that bad.

There are so many ways your tongue can be used for evil if you don't protect your heart. As Christians, we should be examining our hearts often. Check-in and make sure you're not letting evil into your heart that will then come out from your tongue.

Cornerstone Impact Update

Have you seen our Biblical Approach to Finances series? This series started in the middle of September. The beginnings of the workshop are all surrounding our attitudes towards both money and “stuff”. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the blog from November 2022 which focuses on our attitude towards “stuff” and God’s attitude:

A Biblical Approach to Finance: Attitude Framework (Part 1)
The last two months, the focus of the mid-month blog was on the foundation of a biblical approach to finance. If you missed those 2 blogs, I encourage you to go back and read them before this one: A Biblical Approach to Finance: AttitudeWhen we initially launched the Cornerstone Portfolios,

This month is also Financial Literacy Month! On our social media, we’re sharing similar content of these mid-month blogs; however, they aren’t specifically from a Biblical perspective. Being a good steward of everything in your life, including your finances, is important to God. Make sure to check out the content all month to learn more on being financially successful.



Over the last month, Eventide has posted a lot of great content on their LinkedIn page. Make sure to check out the posts below:

Should you wait for the market to reach its lowest point before you invest?

If you had to choose between

Regularly investing $100 into the stock market each month, or
Saving $100 each month and only investing this money when the market “dips”

Which would you choose?

Many believe we should wait and invest when the market hits its lowest point. With this in mind, you may be surprised to learn the results of the experiment Eventide did for their video series: Timeless Truths for Investing.

Check out the 3rd video in the series (the first 2 were shared in the blog last month), “”Employ a System that Forces You to Buy Low.”

Employ a System that Forces You to Buy Low - Eventide
Should you wait for the market to reach its lowest point? Learn more from our Timeless Truths for Investing series.

Time in the market is more important than timing the market.
We’ve talked about in previous posts that Albert Einstein once said that compound interest is “the most powerful force in the universe.”

What is compound interest and why is it so powerful? Check out part 4 in Eventide’s “Timeless Truths for Investing” series:

Remember “The Most Powerful Force in the Universe”
Should you wait for the market to reach its lowest point? Learn more from our Timeless Truths for Investing series.

Have we lost the perspective that investing connects us directly to businesses? Check out the last video in Eventide’s “Timeless Truths for Investing” series where Jason Myhre explains how recapturing this perspective may change your approach to investing:

Invest in Businesses, Not Markets
Are you simply trying to profit off “the market?” Learn more from our Timeless Truths for Investing series.

The Silicon Valley Bank failure was in the headlines in March. We talked about why banks fail in a video series, but here’s more information from Eventide’s Research Analyst, Faina Rozental:

From the Eventide Desk: Faina Rozental
A conversation with Eventide Research Analyst Faina Rozental explaining recent events with Silicon Valley Bank.

Your Faith & the Workplace

We’re getting close to being done with our “Every Good Endeavor” series. Here are the latest posts that you may have missed from the series:

The Gospel & work (Every Good Endeavor - Part 3c)
Who is watching you work? Whom are you working for? Whose opinion matters most in the end? For the next two weeks, we’re going to be looking at Ephesians 6:5-9. We’re going to be taking Paul’s teachings and applying it to both employees and employers today. This week we’re

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West Point, VA
Courtney is SEM's Marketing Manager. She joined SEM full-time in 2016. Outside of SEM, Courtney enjoys hiking with her golden retriever, Mya and volunteering at LifePointe Christian Church.