Leadership Training Seminar
Prov. 16:23; James 3:1-18
Mouth Washing (excerpted from “The Daily Bread”)
The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
Tongue cleaning is an ancient Asian custom that is being introduced into our
western culture. Studies done at an American university show that the use of a
plastic tongue cleaner can reduce the buildup of dental plaque, a substance
that leads to tooth decay. One enterprising businessman has even arranged for
a large chain of drugstores to sell packages of tongue cleaners. If the idea
catches on, Americans could have cleaner mouths. This concept was new to me,
although I vividly remember something else that cleans mouths. As a child, I
had my mouth washed out with soap for using the Lord’s name in vain at the
dinner table. Well, it worked, for I never did it again.
I wish keeping the mouth spiritually clean were as easy as using a plastic
device or a bar of soap. Just think what it would mean to have a tongue that
didn’t gossip, express negative criticism, give vent to abusive anger, speak
unloving words, break confidences, and engage in foolish babblings. Imagine
how helpful it would be if we had an effective way to keep from saying too
much when we know very little, or to keep from remaining silent when we have
something vital to say.
According to Proverbs 16, a healthy mouth is the result of a wise heart. And
Jesus said that a man speaks from the “abundance of the heart” (Luke 6:45).
The all important question is, how do we get a wise heart? By accepting Christ
and letting Him be in control. He will help us keep a clean mouth!
Keep my tongue, Lord, bridled well.
Words of truth O may it tell.
Take my heart, its wellspring deep
Cleanse and purify and keep.
Self Control Galatians 5:22
If you can tame the tongue, you can tame anything.
What power our words contain! James focuses on the little muscle inside our
mouths, called the tongue, a little thing that dispenses both blessing and
cursing. Leaders must pay close attention, for they communicate often and
carry great influence when they speak. James lists four functions of the tongue:
1. Function One: to gauge (vv. 1, 2)
The tongue is a spiritual meter. If we can bridle it, we can bridle the whole
body. It becomes the gauge for our maturity. Our faith will never register
higher than our words.
2. Function Two: to guide (vv. 3-5)
The tongue is like a horse’s bit, a ship’s rudder, or kindling wood. It starts
things in motion. If we can control it, we can guide our lives, just as a bit
directs a horse or a rudder steers a ship.
3. Function Three: to gird (vv. 6-8)
The tongue is powerful. Like a huge fire, it can ruin or bless our entire
lives. This power was meant to send us down the right path, not to kill us.
4. Function Four: to guard (vv.9-18)
The tongue can reveal what sort of wisdom we harbor inside. A good tongue
protects our integrity. James asks: Is yours a good guard or a bad one? Does
it create peace or reveal hypocrisy?
Pastor Stephen Galvano
Rochester Christian Church Ministries International