Hello Summit Family,
One might be getting weary of James’ discourse on the tongue. He has submitted that a controlled tongue is able to keep the entire body in check while an uncontrolled tongue becomes a fire that corrupts the entire body.
Verses 8b through 12 continue his discourse: “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our God and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
The focus on these verses is consistency! James is suggesting that the tongue becomes an instrument of “deadly poison” when what rolls across the tongue is inconsistent. Interestingly enough, he is also stating that ‘inconsistency’ becomes a deadly poison – sin.
That would be in contrast to the immutability of God. Scripture teaches that God doesn’t change (He is immutable.) “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) “I, the Lord do not change.” (Malachi3:6) “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord, “who is and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8) And a truth James has already shared: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly light, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) And 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” All of those verses confirm that God is consistent in His nature, His glory, and His holiness. It is a foregone conclusion that would translate into consistency with what God says. It should be easy to draw the conclusion that being inconsistent is the opposite of what God is.
When James shares that we use our tongues to bless our heavenly Father and then use the same tongue to curse human beings, he is suggesting that we are actually cursing what has been made in the image of Christ. God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” The implication is that we are rejecting what God’s workmanship. How do you feel when someone rejects your work? Rejecting God’s workmanship is a form of rejecting God!
Allow me to be personal. If I were to receive the “praise” of another person and then were to hear that same person had “cursed” my grandson – someone who clearly portrays my image and character, how do you think I would be tempted to respond to that person? At the least, I would be offended!
Our love for Christ is so strong that we are offended when His name is despised or used in a way that dishonors Him. But think about how tempting it is to speak ill of others – those who have been made in the image of Christ?
One can understand how this could have been especially difficult for the scattered nation of Israel to receive. They were living in a pagan world. They were probably being exposed to a plethora of ungodly activity. I can imagine the temptation to “curse” their neighbor was great.
James appeals to their Christian character as brothers and sisters in Christ, which he says two times in this passage telling them “this should not be.” As those living WITHIN the body of Christ, people of faith, this blessing and cursing from the same mouth should not happen. It is something we have the power to gain victory over. It is not something beyond our control.
He then provides two examples. The first example: Can fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Imagine there are two streams of water flowing into the same pool, one is sweet and one is harsh and salty. Once in the pool, we would never be able to separate the two. And which do think would prevail – the sweet over the salty or the salty over the sweet? The salty is what would be remembered. In the same manner, if we are inconsistent with our praising and cursing, which will be prominent in the memories of others? The cursing!
Then James guides his reader to consider the very source of the water, where it originates. A salty spring cannot deliver sweet water. In other words, whatever is in the DNA of a source, or a plant, or the heart of man is what is going to “grow.” The nature of a plant determines its fruit.
James is providing a very simple conclusion. A fig tree does not produce olives. And a grapevine does not produce figs. Every tree and vine produces what is in its DNA to produce.
Bitter words come from a bitter heart and sweet words come from a Godly heart. Listen to these words of Christ: “How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Matthew 12:34) When the Holy Spirit resides in our heart, it should be full of joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
How consistently are we honoring or dishonoring God by what we say?