All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue.
- from James 3:7-8
Okay, okay, okay. James, if no human being can tame the tongue, why should we even try?
Throughout God’s word we’re given both admonitions to pursue holiness and reminders that we won’t ever be perfectly holy. We’re told that we’ll be shown mercy when we fail. God (and James) seem to be operating from a different paradigm than we’re used to.
We struggle to pray because we’re not guaranteed results. We struggle to serve because we’re not guaranteed recognition. We struggle to share our faith because rejection remains a distinct possibility. If uncertainty makes the life of faith difficult, how much more will we struggle when faced with the certainties James addresses in today’s passage.
Try to tame your tongue and you will fail. Idle words will slip out. Thoughtless, careless, cruel, bitter, insensitive, unkind, nasty words will sneak their way into our world despite our efforts to restrain them.
James gives us a dose of reality, a double dose. We don’t want it to be true. But it is. We are guaranteed to fail. Why bother trying?
Our prayerful efforts at taming our tongue undeniably prevent many, many forest fires. God uses our trying to bring a great deal of good and kindness into the world. And even as we fail, there is blessing: trying and failing humbles us.
As we’ll see tomorrow, God wants us to try to tame our tongues. But we do need to know that we will stumble along the way.
Knowing that we’ll stumble prepares us to receive God’s helping hand as he draws us to our feet to try again.
Where have you tried to tame your tongue and failed? Take a few moments today to receive God’s mercy and his invitation to get up and try again.