Does your tongue ever get you into trouble? Do other people’s tongues ever cause you trouble? In this message, we’ll take a look at how to get control over our tongues, and how to counteract the negative words that others have spoken to us. Find out the difference this can make in your life and the lives of those around you. (Recorded July 25, 1999)
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With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
For some reason, last week seemed to be a week of cursing. Not by me or my family (thankfully!). But almost every day I overheard someone cursing at the top of their lungs at someone else.
I was on sitting down in a park when a couple almost tripped over me as they hurried past, cursing at one another with no concern who over heard them.
I was riding bikes with the kids when we stopped to watch a work crew pour concrete when one of the guys made a mistake and another guy tore into him with a stream of obscenities (we decided to keep riding!)
I overheard a man in his garage cursing at his grown son.
Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of such language. Maybe you’ve done some of your own cursing, even this week.
I want to encourage you that God can help you break the chain of cursing in your life. And if you’ve been hurt by cursing, God wants you to know you that He has a way to counteract that hurt.
Some of you may wonder how you can possibly break this chain. It helps to know a little bit about cursing.
1. Cursing starts in the heart.
Cursing doesn’t just happen with your lips. It starts in your heart. Matthew 12:33-37 says:
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
Cursing starts when something happens to us that makes us bitter, angry, frustrated. Then it comes out of our mouths. But unfortunately, our cursing is very destructive. God tells us why cursing is so devastating to Him.
2. The Tragedy of Cursing.
If you’ve ever been cursed, you know how it hurts. The reason it saddens God when we curse is because He has called us to bless others and bless him, but instead we curse others and curse him.
James 3:9-12 tells us this should not be.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
But how do we stop?
3. Cursing stops in the heart.
If cursing starts in the heart, then it stops in the same place.
Paul tells us the secret of how to stop when he instructed the Ephesians to rid themselves of unwholesome talk.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
The key to stopping is through forgiveness.
Forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity, and everything we do.
I recently heard about a famous athiest who was famous for her cursing. Yet when I think of famous Christians, like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa, it’s hard to imagine them cursing. Why? I think the difference lies in the heart of Christianity: forgiveness.
When we give our lives to Christ, our old ways are buried, and ought to stay buried. And we can put on a new life. Paul says in Colossians:
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
If you want to break the chain of cursing from continuing on to those you love as well, Jesus has the answer.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
God has called us to bless others, even those who don’t deserve our blessing, even those who curse us. When we do this, we will diffuse the hurt and anger in our own hearts, and not allow the roots of bitterness to grow. As we forgive others, we will be released from our own chains as well.
Closing and Prayer
Let’s pray that God would fill us with his Spirit, and enable us to do what he’s called us to do.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
If you’ve never received the forgiveness of God through Christ, you’ll have a hard time forgiving others. If you’d like to receive his forgiveness right now, you can do it by asking for his forgiveness, putting your faith in him, and following his ways.