Speak Life! | James 3

Welcome to Real Life. Our words speak life or death.

Some things are better left unsaid,
which I usually realize after I say them.


My friend Sandy broke her leg. Her lack of mobility has been frustrating as she must rely on others to meet her needs. So, she begins each morning with her surrender prayer.

Help me be humble and grateful, Lord. 
Keep me from acting ugly. 
Guard my lips

Don’t you love it? Her prayer so practical. It’s easy to let ugly words fly as we face daily frustrations.

“The tongue is a fire” says James.[1] When we camp, evenings are spent around the campfire, eating s’mores, sharing stories, and watching flames dance. The campfire warms and cheers us. It's safe because it's controlled. But when fires rage out-of-control, like the ones in California, they destroy land, homes, and even taken lives.

So it is with the fire of our tongue. We can speak life or death. When our tongues are under control, they light fires of healing, peace, and love. The other day, I felt as tired and worn as a bag of hand-me-downs for Goodwill. Then, a card arrived in the mail. “Thanks for being so wonderfully you and loving Jesus the way you do!” my friend Delayne wrote. Her words nourished my soul and revived my spirit. Delayne spoke life!

In contrast, I'm ashamed of ugly, uncontrolled words I've said...and words I've heard. Can’t you do anything right? #$@&! You're wearing that? I hate you! Words expose hearts. What pours out when we’re cut-off in traffic, kept waiting too long, or the coffee spills? If angry, frustrated, and upset is the norm, something’s wrong. We need a heart check. Lord, what’s going on? Why am I so upset? Perhaps a long-buried wound is festering. And we're taking it out on everyone around us. Or maybe we’re so busy and stressed the slightest annoyance sets us off. We need to back off and stop pushing so hard. The Lord can help us process raw emotions, reveal root issues, and heal wounded hearts. Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor.[2] Sometimes, though, it also helps to talk things through with a friend, pastor, or psychologist.

The tongue feels impossible to tame, but nothing’s impossible with God. Sandy asks for help before she needs it. Smart! Here’s my battle strategy:

God’s Word
God’s Presence
God’s Grace

God’s Word is alive and powerful. Memorizing, meditating on, and praying God’s Word transforms our thoughts and hearts. For this purpose, I recently memorized:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 NLT
God’s Presence is with us always. In the heat of the moment, just praying “Jesus” is powerful! It reminds us of his presence. He can extinguish the tongue's fire and help control our thoughts and words.

God’s Grace. We need it desperately. And so does everyone else! The one who gets on our last nerve. The one who burns us with their words. God's grace never runs dry. Let's remember to pass it on.

The tongue is a fire. May we recognize its power and wield it wisely. Controlled by the Spirit, our tongues bless, encourage, teach, praise, pray, and share the gospel. We speak life!

Dear Lord,
Tame our tongues.
Teach us to speak life.
May the words of our mouths
And the mediation of our hearts please you.
In Jesus’ powerful name we pray. Amen.

Take it further:
  • Read Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst.
  • Need a flesh-and-blood counselor? Visit Focus on the Family’s Counseling Referral or call 1-855-771-HELP.
  • Read James 3:5-10 (NIV):

    The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

    All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

    With the tongue we praise our Lord 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.
[1] James 3:6
[2] Isaiah 9:6


  1. This is so very true. The tongue is that hardest thing to tame.

    1. Steffie, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate your encouragement. :)

  2. Hello sister Peggi Tustan. I am a Pastor from Mumbai, india. I am glad to stop by your profile on the blogger and the blog post. I am also blessed and feel privileged and honoured to get connected with you as well as know you and about yuor interest in watching birds but more than that of women's ministry. Your topic on the blog post on Welcome to Real Life "Our Words Speak Life Or Death" This morning by our timing we had our family devotion and the scripture portion for reading and meditating was from Psalm 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips" and again as I was browsing the profiles of christians I came across yours and the topic of our devotion once again came through your blog post. We also also referred to James 3 and references from Proverbs too. The Lord spoke to us as husband and wife to be intentional in using our tongues that would bring life and not distruction. Thank you once again for your thoughts with biblical references on above topic. I love getting connected with the people of God around to globe to be encouraged, strengthened and praying for one another. I have been in the Pastoral ministry for last 40 yrs in this great city of Mumbai a city with a great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. we reach out to t he poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing to the brokeneharted. We also encourage young and the adults from the wes to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. Since you have a women's ministry and being as a speaker I would love to have you come as a family to encourage our sisters in the Lord as well as your husband can encourage the men in the church and if young grown up children can be an encouragement to our youths. I am sure yu will have a life changing experience. Looking forward to hear from you very soon. god's richest blessings on you, your family and friends. My email id is: dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar Wankhede

    1. Pastor Diwakar, thank you for your encouraging comments. I'm honored that you found my blog, read it, and it reinforced the topic of your family devotions.

      I am praying for you and your ministry in Mumbai this morning. May our God bless and strengthen you, continue to expand your ministry, and provide for all your needs--including fellow believers from the West to encourage your ministry.


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