James 3:1-6 (MSG) Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards.  And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.  A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.  A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.  A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
Perfect tongue, Perfect person – God defines a person that can control his tongue as somebody that has been fully matured in him. Because the tongue is such a great determiner of what the person will be doing, God knows that if somebody can control their words, then they’ll ultimately be able to control their entire body. There is only one of the other places where God talks about the perfection of a human being is when they love their enemies the way that he does. This means that this is a great emphasis on something we are supposed to be doing when we love the way that God does.
A bit – God uses the metaphor of ‘a bit’ in a horse. A horse may be a powerful animal, but if you put a bit in a horse’s nostrils and you’re able to control it. Another example that he uses is a small rudder on a huge ship. In both of these illustrations, there’s something small that is directing something huge. God is likening our tongue to our body and he’s saying that if you could start with taking captive your tongue, then you’ll be able to control the rest of your body. This means that when we’re prioritizing a lifestyle of learning how to love like Jesus, our tongue should be one of the first things that we start with and we should also be putting a lot of emphasis on it.
Accomplish or destroy – The tongue has the power to destroy our lives or accomplish the will of God. If we use our tongue in such a way that it is not edifying, then we ultimately give our tongue to the power of Satan, and then Satan uses our tongue for gossip, slander, dissension, lustful words, and idle babbling. When we decide to use our tongue for life, then God can use us for preaching the gospel, exhorting people to their highest call, encouraging people in their doubts, strengthening people when they’re laying their foundation, and God could advance the kingdom greatly with our words.
Forest fire – God also illustrates that our tongue, in whatever direction it goes, whether it’s for evil or good, will be like a forest fire once it’s used. This is important to know because if we say one small thing, it will lead to a forest fire of bad things. However, if we prioritize and control our tongue to speak the will of God, then it will also be a forest fire of the will of God, which is essentially a revival to whatever extent that we’re dealing with.
You Will Be Judged By Your Words
Matthew 12:36-37 (TPT) You can be sure of this: when the day of judgment comes, everyone will be held accountable for every careless word he has spoken.  Your very words will be used as evidence against you, and your words will declare you either innocent or guilty.”
Accountable for every careless word – When we are with our friends and our family, or by ourselves, we can often not care about who is listening to our tongue, whether we’re murmuring, complaining, gossiping, slandering, or speaking lustfully about somebody, God ultimately hears every single word that we say. While we are young, we may not think about that, but there will come a day of judgment where everything that we say and do will come into account. This is what the last chapter of Ecclesiastes teaches us. Everything that we do will come into account. One thing we have to know is the energy that we have should not be spent on mindless chattering, but the energy that we have should be used on edifying people around us, sharing the love of God, and advancing his kingdom.
Evidence against you – Our words towards heaven will ultimately be used as evidence. If you don’t have Jesus as your covering, when you meet God, then he will judge us by all of our works. If you could imagine every single word that we’re saying is being written down in a book of works in heaven, and when we come to meet God, every single deed and word will be inside of that book, and he’ll judge it, whether it’s a hundred percent righteous or not. The judgment of God is a hundred percent righteous because God is the only one that is a hundred percent righteous and holy. Meaning that no matter how many good deeds we do, there will always be some type of unrighteousness in it because all of us fall short of the glory of God. All of us are unrighteous.
However, once Jesus is our covering on judgment day and we live in the salvation of the Lord, then our works and our deeds are taken away from the book of works., and we’re judged by the book of life, which is the book of life is basically being judged by God. At this point, everything that we do that is sinful will be burned away and we won’t have any reward for it. However, if we live in such a way that we speak with pleasing the Lord in our hearts and with our words and our actions, then we are rewarded and that’s evidence for God’s rewards in our life.
Innocent or guilty – Our words are so powerful that when we stand before the heavenly courts before God, then he will either judge us innocently or charge us as guilty. The enemy is always trying to accuse us of a case of why we should be condemned to hell and the word is one of the places that he stands against it. Think about all the times where we have a decision in a conversation to say something bad about somebody else or to say something edifying. In that small place of temptation that’s where we will either be judged innocent or guilty. We need to have such a high standard with our words because that will allow us to repent and convict us to speak with authority and conviction to everyone around us.
Proverbs 6:2 (NLT) if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said—
Trapped yourself – The ancient illustration of death is often a predator and prey. We are the prey, and Satan is the predator. One of the ways that he snares us is by the words that we say. Meaning that another illustration of our words is that they’re actually traps that are laid before us. The enemy is trying to put traps with our words so that later on, they will catch us.
How many times have we said something hurtful towards somebody and later on, we ended up regretting it? How many fights were caused in our family because we decided to not speak with grace on our lips, but instead we spoke with hatred? How many wars in the world are continuing now because forgiveness isn’t on the tip of our lips, but vengeance is? These are the traps that the enemy lays before us.
Caught by what you said – Just like the trap is what we say, how we are caught, later on, is when it comes into the fruit of what we said. We want it to be able to not think shortsightedly when it comes to our words. We always want to think about the long-term impact that our words will have, not only on the person but on ourselves as well.
Words impact us – When we say something, what comes out of our mouth also corrupts our hearts if it’s negative; therefore, the person we are speaking about is not the only one that is being impacted, but our wicked words are actually toxic for ourselves and our own soul.
Toxic for others – When we speak negative words, they are toxic for us and they’re also toxic for others. Many relationships are destroyed, families are broken, nations are at unrest, and many conflicts persist because of the words that we choose to say or not say.
Sometimes when we hold our tongue and stop saying good things that also increase the kingdom of darkness. We have to be able to boldly speak the love of God when it’s needed so that we can advance the kingdom as well. However, we also have to know when to not speak so that we don’t corrupt or intoxicate everybody around us with the kingdom of darkness also.