James 3:6 (ESV)
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
We don’t often consider it, but when we watch an athlete’s performance, we are watching an amazing symphony of a dozen human systems seamlessly working together, including the circulatory, respiratory, skeletal and muscular systems. If we just consider the muscular system, we have approximately 650 muscles performing the actions we are consciously undertaking such as walking or lifting, but also many which are constantly working unconsciously to perform tasks such as maintaining our posture or circulating blood or other materials around our body. A common question is “what is the strongest muscle in the body”? And there isn’t one answer to this question because it depends on how you are measuring it. According to Everyday Mysteries, the following are muscles that have been deemed the strongest based on various definitions of strength.
Eye Muscles In 1 hour of reading the eye muscles make 10,000 coordinated movements
Gluteus Maximus - largest muscle in body keeps trunk of body in erect position
Heart - hardest working muscle pumps about 2,500 gallons of blood each day
Tongue - the hardest worker it is constantly working but never tires
I found the above list interesting and noted that one of those muscles gets specifically mentioned in the Bible as being extremely powerful; however, as athletes, it’s probably not one that we frequently consider. James 3: 1-12 does a wonderful job of explaining the power of the tongue. After reading this passage you can’t help but nod your head. It likely allows you to consider things you have said to others, or what others have said to you. James sums it up in verses 9 and 10 by saying: “9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
How is it that our tongue can move so quickly from producing something fragrant to producing what James calls “poison” (vs. 8)? When I consider times where I am not doing well in this area of my life, I can generally see that there is a deeper issue going on in my life. Our words are typically just symptoms and not root causes. Jesus explains: “The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). While we are “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17), as Christians we continue to walk the journey of sanctification, where we battle our old self (Romans 7: 15-20), and the “evil” inside us usually comes out through our words. In James 3:8, we read: but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. But God can tame our tongue, as long as we remain humble and invite him to continually sanctify us to become more like him. When your tongue spews poison, be quick to repent and pray daily that your powerful tongue can instead be used to dispense medicine in a hurting world.
Dear Lord, help us to tame our tongue. Give us the strength we need so that we can bring honor to You in all that we do and say. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.