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What I Can’t Do

I can’t tell you how relieved I was to read in James 3:8:

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

I sure do have a problem with taming my tongue and now I know why. I can’t do it. It’s right there in the Bible. God tells me I can’t.

Just because I know why, it doesn’t mean I don’t need to be mindful of my tongue. The Bible also tells me how important what I say is to God. Matthew 12:36 says:

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

In fact, it is this verse that makes me feel so pressured about what I say. I know it is important to God. Try as I might, I continuously fail to speak only words that glorify God!

The reason I have such trouble with my tongue is that I have to let the Spirit change me from the inside out. I was challenged by my friend to set a goal of standing on my head. I did it. I can do most reasonable things I set out to do, but I can’t tame my tongue. It would be like setting a goal to become an Olympic gymnast. I discovered in college that I could compete in volleyball with junior high girls! I wasn’t created to be an athlete.

Taming the tongue is not something a human being can do. I’m living proof of that. Although it is comforting to let the truth of James’ words—no human being can tame the tongue—set in, I shouldn’t take it as an excuse to poison the world with my rantings. Rather, this statement leads me to the reality that I must accept. I have a lot of words to account for each day of my life. I can’t do anything about the words I spoke in the past, but I can commit my speech to God each morning and ask Him to cover each word I speak, write, and even think. I can’t do it any more than I can become an Olympic athlete, but I can consider how important my words are to God and ask Him to guard my tongue. I need to rely on the Spirit of God within me to convict me of the way I use my tongue for evil. I can’t take back the words I spoke, but I can ask forgiveness of some who heard me and mostly of God who showed me my error.

While the world is interested in how to lose 10 pounds in one weekend, I need to be desperate to find ways to keep my tongue from dishonoring the God who created it to speak of His blessings and praise Him every day. It’s a daily discipline that I am more determined to focus on, only with a more successful strategy. I will accept that it is impossible for me to tame my tongue—a human being can’t do it. I can only rely on the Spirit of God if there’s any tongue taming in my future!


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