And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:6 (NLT)
Before you head to dinner with the family today, here are some words to the wise. You already know the power of your words. Your speech impacts many other aspects of your life. I love the accuracy of the Bible in reference to the tongue.
This same passage uses the metaphor of the rudder to describe the tongue…it’s just a little part of our body, but can cause a whole lot of trouble. We say many foolish things in speaking to our friends and family. Many of them violate all the rules of godly communication and lead us into conflicts with others. Some of the statements are downright evil!
Instead of asking questions, we tell people what they are thinking and feeling. We tell them things like:
If you think back on your conversations that have gone this way, how helpful has this been? Did your statements accomplish anything positive or lead to an argument? Most people, when confronted with such statements become very defensive and angry that they are being accused of something. This adds to the corruption of the communication process.
- “You don’t really care.”
- “You shouldn’t feel that way”
- “You are in a bad mood”
- “You don’t love me”
If you are like me you have uttered many words you wish you could take back to your children, your parents, spouse or friends. I have said many foolish and hurtful things to other people, even as a Christian! This is not to my credit or God's glory but to my shame. James was truly inspired as he wrote about the tongue and its poison for there is no more accurate a word picture than the one he drew for us.
Our words can be such a gift to others and yet we tend to use them to beat each other emotionally to a bloody pulp. However, we communicate with all parts of our bodies. The sayings, “If looks could kill I’d be dead,” he was “shooting daggers out of his eyes,” indicate that eyes are powerful non-verbal communicators. Eye rolling indicates the “oh brother” thoughts going on in the mind, downcast eyes reveal shame and fear.
Overall our faces are great communicators. Frowns, wrinkled foreheads, pressed and pinched lips tell you things about me and what is going on in my thoughts. All these forms of communication come from somewhere. They have become patterns and habits of living that come from the internal, invisible part of each of us that the Bible refers to as the heart of a man.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted (or grows corrupt) by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
You must identify specific ways of communication specifically that you need to change and determine with the help of God that you are going to stop doing that, that you are going to mortify that particular area of life, put it to death.
I am not only speaking about behaviors that are to be put off, because notice that the verse also speaks of putting of “deceitful lusts” these involve both the inner and outer man. Many times, one of the keys to changing is to identify the desires, or lusts that lead to that kind of behavior.
The old man, or the sinful nature will be with you until the day you die. If it is fed it will continue to grow stronger and more corrupt. The flesh is not fed by goodness; it is fed by sinful thoughts and desires that lead to sinful actions. The desires of your flesh are actually insatiable and have such a strong appetite that Scripture warns us against giving in to it.
Identify specific ways of your communication methods that need to change and determine with the help of God that you are going to put them to death! Not only your behaviors, which could be temporarily altered through human determination, but what Scripture calls the deceitful lusts that involve both the inner and outer man. One of the keys to changing is to identify your desires, or lusts that lead to that kind of behavior.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13 (NIV)
The only place we can find a true standard for how we are to communicate with each other is in Scripture. There must be a putting off of self-centered talk, poor listening habits, and corrupt communication methods of thinking and behaving and replacing them with Godly, honorable, holy thoughts and communication.