James 3:9-10 says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”
James says that many stand and sing choruses during Sunday service and on the way home curse the driver who pulled in front of them. Many religiously say their prayers on Monday morning, but at work lie to their employer as to why they’re late. Many attend small group on Wednesday, but spread office slander at the work party on Friday. We are schizophrenic much of the time and that is not good, nor honouring to God, nor worthy of Christ. A schizophrenic mouth is not consistent with a truly converted person. That why James says, “My brothers (and sisters), this should not be!”
James 3 tells us that our speech is powerful, dangerous, untameable and schizophrenic. We all struggle in this area. How do we change our speech and move from words that do the devil’s work (v6) to words that honour God? The answer is that we change our heart.
The tongue shows what’s inside.
Verse 11-12 say, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig–tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
Fresh water and salt water can’t come from the same spring. A fig tree can’t bear olives and a grapevine can’t bear figs
The point is that if you are a fig tree you will bear figs, if you have a unclean heart you will speak unclean words and if you have an unforgiven heart you will speak merciless words. If you are dirty on the inside your speech will be soiled.
James here is merely teaching what Jesus taught. In Matthew 12:34, speaking to the hypocritical religious leaders, Jesus said, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. What you say, the words you use, you speech patterns confirm and reveal what is in your heart, what’s on the inside! So if you want to change your speech you must change your heart.
How do you do that? Not by positive thinking, or trying really hard or attending church, but by repentance and faith in Jesus. Jesus died and rose so that we can be forgiven and have a new life. He came to change our hearts, our “insides”. Once our hearts are changed, our speech will change too. It must, because a grapevine can’t bear figs. If your speech hasn’t changed, if its still abusive, dividing, discouraging and slanderous, that demonstrates that you are not a Christian, that your heart has not changed, that you have not humbly accepted the word. (James 1:21)
Your speech (including Facebook statuses) matters. You either attract people to Christ or repel them from Christ. You either build up or tear down.