Sunday School Lessons
Commentary by Walter Albritton
To Honor Christ the Tongue Must Be Bridled by the Spirit
And the Mind Must Be Open to Godly Wisdom
Key Verses: Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. – James 3:13
Words may hurt us deeply. Though I have tried to forget, memories linger in my mind of times when others have hurt me with cutting words.
Years ago, I went to a certain man and apologized for offending him. I had been wrong. The Spirit convicted me. I told the man I felt ashamed of myself and asked his forgiveness.
His words still haunt me. He said, “I will not forgive you. I do not want to be your friend. I enjoy disliking you.” With that, he turned away. I can still feel the sting of his words.
Worse memories, however, are those of times when I was the one who hurt others with words. I can recall bitter times when I made sarcastic remarks to my wife and my children, words that wounded deeply our relationships. Thankfully, we found healing for our brokenness by turning to the Great Physician.
A marriage may be destroyed by words spoken in haste, anger, or frustration. My own foolish words threatened our marriage more than once, especially in the early years. Somehow, our marriage was saved by the grace of God.
Realizing this, and grateful for God’s applied mercy, I chose as my favorite New Testament verse Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV). This verse epitomizes the Christlike love that must be practiced in the home before it can be shared with others.
Actually, I am drawn fondly to the King James Version of the above verse as my choice rendering: “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I love the use of the word, “tenderhearted.” The Spirit taught me, as a young father, that this was the great need of my heart, and a problem that He alone could resolve.
All of us will agree that it is well nigh impossible to keep our tongues under perfect control. We want to use our tongues to bless others, but then, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves cursing others. The tongue is, indeed, “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
I find it important to take James at his word. He says plainly, “But the tongue can no man tame….” (3:8). If “no man” can tame his tongue, then we all need help to control our tongues.
Here is where I believe it important to turn to the Spirit for help. The Spirit can tame, or bridle, my tongue, if I am willing to surrender its control to Him. The Spirit, after all, offers to each of us that fruit of the Spirit called “self-control.”
It is helpful to note that, like James, Paul’s answer to envy, strife, confusion, and evil works, is the control of the Spirit. This may be seen clearly in this familiar passage:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law….Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians -18, 24-26).
Clearly, it is when our minds are open to God, and closed to the ungodly influences that surround us, that we may receive “the wisdom that is from above.”
What our culture, and our world, needs is “God-conscious” men and women who want more than anything to live as servants of God. Those who are true servants of God are filled with praise for God, so much so that their bridled tongues consistently honor Jesus Christ. Then, wherever Christ is honored, the Kingdom comes! + + + + (Walter may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)