People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a
grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t
draw fresh water from a salty spring.
It's not right that both good and bad talk comes out of our mouth. Our talk should always be pure, wholesome and positive. Clearly it's not, though; we all say things that are harmful, hurtful, even deceitful. So we need to control our tongue, we need to think before we speak. But that's not the ultimate goal, is it?
What we should be aiming and praying for is to become people who cannot help but say positive and helpful things, all the time. You can't draw fresh water from a salty spring, says James, so we should be pleading with God and working hard ourselves at becoming freshwater springs, so to speak. Like Paul says in Romans 12:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Which brings me back to my question about drunk Jesus – if he was perfect and always did the will of his Father, then I reckon he'd probably be alright if he drank a bit too much one evening hanging out with his disciples. Not that I'm proposing we get drunk as some kind of test of how close to perfection we are! Although how we behave when we've had a few certainly does reveal our weak points...