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Tongue Tamers

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up. Ephesians 4:29

In West with the Night, author Beryl Markham detailed her work with Camciscan, a feisty stallion she was tasked with taming. She’d met her match with Camciscan. No matter what strategy she employed, she could never fully tame the proud stallion, chalking up only one victory over his stubborn will.

How many of us feel this way in the battle to tame our tongues? While James compares the tongue to the bit in a horse’s mouth or a ship’s rudder (James 3:3–5), he also laments, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (v. 10).

So, how can we win the battle over the tongue? The apostle Paul offers tongue-taming advice. The first involves speaking only the truth (Ephesians 4:25). This is not a license to be painfully blunt, however. Paul follows up with “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up” (v. 29). We can also take out the trash: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (v. 31). Is this easy? Not if we attempt to do it on our own. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit who helps us as we rely on Him.

As Markham learned, consistency with Camciscan was needed in the battle of wills. Such is the case in the taming of the tongue.

What do you find most challenging in taming your tongue? What practical steps can you take to win the battle in the coming week?

Jesus, I need You to help me be mindful of the words I use.


Who was James, the “servant of God” (1:1) and author of this epistle? Several different men named James appear in the New Testament. The most prominent is James, Zebedee’s son and John’s brother (Matthew 4:21). Another of Christ’s disciples was James the son of Alphaeus (10:3). James the younger or “the Less” (nkjv) is mentioned in Mark 15:40, but some scholars say this James might have been James the son of Alphaeus. Another was the father of Judas (not Iscariot, Luke 6:16). Finally, is James the half-brother of Jesus Himself (Matthew 13:55; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19). This James most likely wrote the book. James the son of Zebedee was the first of Christ’s disciples to be martyred (Acts 12:2), and the others were not prominent enough to have such broad influence.

Bill Crowder

By |2019-09-11T14:11:08-04:00September 12th, 2019|
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