By way of reminder, the book of James explains that there are strong characteristics that mark maturity. First, a Christ-follower is patient in trouble, and learns to count it all joy when facing trials. Second, a believer practices the truth of God. Meaning, a believer strives to follow God’s commands in all areas of their life. A third characteristic to spiritual maturity is a serious one, namely, the power to control the tongue. This one is difficult for us all.
Listen more and talk less.
James describes vividly the problem that our tongue brings, for instance, whether it is gossip, slander, berating, or simply unwholesome talk. In that regard, Warren Wiersbe writes, “The Christians that James wrote to were apparently having serious problems with their tongues.” They obviously were not heeding James 1:19 which says, “be swift to hear, slow to speak.” Most of the time, we all have a problem listening instead of talking. God’s wisdom here is to listen more and talk less.
Our speech can get us into trouble.
Our tongues can sometimes get us into trouble. For example, rumors have been started, lies have been told, feelings have been hurt, and a host more sins, all because the tongue is what we would say, “hard to tame.” James 3:5b-6 says, “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity.” Our tongues can be a problem for us and for other people!
In contrast, the ability to speak is one of the greatest things God has given us. Wiersbe states, “With the tongue, man can praise God, pray, preach the Word, and lead the lost to Christ. What a privilege!” The ability to share the good news of God is an awesome responsibility. Furthermore, the ability to use our speech to encourage and uplift others is a way to share Christ and encourage others in their faith.
We must remember to use our gifts of speech for honoring God, not shaming Him with our actions or our tongue. In that regard, Wiersbe reminds us, “With that same tongue [we] can tell lies that could ruin a man’s reputation or break a person’s heart. The ability to speak words is the ability to influence others and accomplish tremendous tasks, and yet we take this ability for granted.”
May we remember to use gifts of speech in a God-glorifying way!
1 Peter 3:10
Be Mature by Warren Wiersbe