9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Despite the fact that it seems like we’re fighting a war that can’t be won, James cuts to the heart of why we fight the battle in the first place. Even though it seems like it is an unwinnable war, the tongue is a reflection of who we are. It is often going to reveal our true selves better than anything else.
And the truth is, we are imperfect. We are going to do and say things that are not glorifying to God. But James tells us that we need to be better reflections of our Lord and Savior. We can’t be hypocritical Christians. It comes down to a matter of what are we going to do with our tongues. Knowing the power they possess, are we going to use them to praise God or are we going to use them to curse men? We can’t do both, because one pollutes the other, so which is it going to be?
Our sinful nature desires to cause trouble and it does so often through the use of our tongue and the words that come out of our mouth. We will lose some battles in this area but we must press on in order to win the war. Even though the tongue is un-tamable and causes so much trouble, we still have the option of what comes from it. We can determine if we will use our tongue to praise God or curse men. Our sinful nature certainly wants to use our tongue for evil but we can say no to it.
While the tongue may not be tamable, this doesn’t mean that we must be controlled by it. If we had a wild beast that was un-tamable, we might be able to keep it caged and keep it from causing harm, but we’d never be able to trust it and feel safe around it. We might be able to keep our tongue in check most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that it is safe or tamed.
The battle with the tongue will always be ongoing. The best way to keep from cursing men is by praising God. We unfortunately use our tongues to do both, but we can’t do them both at the same time. The more we feed one nature and starve the other, the stronger one nature will be while the other nature becomes weaker. We won’t ever gain full mastery over the tongue, but we can keep it in check as well as possible.