James 3:1-12 deals with our speech, and the fact that it is a clear indicator of our own spiritual health (see James 1:26). The tongue, though a small part of the body, has great power to wound and even destroy. It is like fire, which can both benefit and kill, depending on how it’s controlled.
We all have not only found ourselves in trouble because of words we have spoken, but have been on the receiving end of words that wounded us, and though they do heal over time, these wounds never completely go away. This should make us more careful about the words we speak.
Harsh words, gossip, lying, and outbursts of anger have no place in the life of a follower of Jesus. But the words are only a symptom of the condition of the heart. When we develop deep roots in God’s Word and abide with Him daily, and also remind ourselves of the gospel – that God granted us mercy instead of justice, based on the work of Christ at the cross of Calvary – the result is an overflow from our heart that will “impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).
This video, “For Those Who Have Been Hurt by Words”, features Paul Tripp, who will be speaking at the Desiring God National Conference later this month.