November 18, 2023
James 1:19-20, New International Version
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
Let’s begin with this question, “Does God truly instruct us to tame our tongue? Didn’t He give us freewill, and aren’t we living in a culture of free speech?” Before any future discussion, there are some areas that need to be clarified. Freewill is the right to determine possible courses of action for us. Yet, somehow, somewhere, this right can and has been taken away. Free speech is the right to voice your opinion without a possible course of prosecution. However, just as with freewill, this right given to us by God can and has been taken away. How? Because of human laws to control both, for both good intent and bad gain.
Both free will and free speech can only exist when there is choice. But one can only make a choice when there are guidelines. Those who know the truth know that the ultimate guideline is from above – the Highest – God. God has given us His instruction, and He calls them commandments, decrees, statutes, and laws. The requirement for us is that we obey. As He said, “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30:12-14, New Living Translation)
The Word requires that those who hear it obey it regardless of if we agree with it. Because of this, the instruction to tame our tongue also requires that we listen and obey. He also tells us this in the book of James, “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19) This requirement is for everyone, and no one has an exception! “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) Be thoughtful and be Christ-like. Just because you have the right to do what you want to do or say what you want to say does not mean you will do what is right or say what is right. In addition to this command, God also tells us we must be slow to become angry, “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:20, BSB)
Freewill and free speech is not a gift given to us so that we can violate the laws of God. There is no contradiction here. Instead, God desires that we will use these rights to display His character and His image. My dear brothers and sisters, my dear friends, believers or non-believers, I urge you to pay attention and learn from the word of the Wise. Read and think about how true it is!
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.” (James 1:26, ESV)
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4, ESV)
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV)
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23, ESV)
Remember: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21, ESV)
Read and learn and be fruitful!