But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:8-10—NIV)

We are masters at rationalizing our own inconsistencies. Yet God unequivocally denounces all double standards. The book of James gives very practical instruction for making life match doctrine. Smack in the middle of this book is the discourse on the tongue.

The tongue of the believer is like a surgical instrument. It is both potentially fatal and life-giving at the same time. The surgeon is committed to be an angel of correction, healing, mercy, and serves as a precise practitioner for help. He picks up his expensively crafted tools and skillfully operates in the behalf of the patient’s welfare.

Can you imagine your horror if he didn’t care how he handled his surgical tools? Would it bother you if you looked at his collection of tools and all you found were a hammer, a saw, and a crowbar? What would be your reaction if you went to him for correction of some life-threatening malady and all he can speak about is getting the surgery over so he can get away and play golf? Do you see the inconsistency between his mission of mercy and his method of ministry?

God holds the believer to an even higher standard of integrity. Our method of ministry is to be consistent with our mission of mercy. There is no greater tool in our tool kit than the tongue. With it we bless the Name and work of God and share Gospel-truth.

But what of your other words? Our English text uses the word “curse” to translate the thought of “to play down upon.” Talking down another human being who is a fellow “image bearer” is also an insult toward his and your Maker. James’ burden is that we see the inconsistency of our method of ministry.

The following context drives home the point that if your method of ministry is inconsistent with your mission of mercy then you must check your heart. What do your words to and about others reveal of your heart? Is the love of Jesus so fully installed within that it promotes humble obedience even in your speech? Words mean things. Allow God to measure your consistency of mission and method. Follow the example of the Divine Physician!