May 2024 Bible Study: Taming the Tongue

By Captain Charlene Morrow
Monterey Peninsula, CA Corps – Golden State Division

Text: James 3:1-12


Think about the wide variety of comments and connections you make daily. The average person speaks about 7,000 words spoken a day, makes about 12 social interactions daily, and according to a Stanford study, has about 6000 individual thoughts daily. If we take a day and examine all of our words spoken and thoughts to ourselves, would you be proud of everything you’ve done? Would God be pleased? Could you say that you have “tamed the tongue” (physical or mental) in those situations? How many times would that tongue have gotten you into trouble? We all have trouble taming our tongue. James talks about this in James 3:1-12. The same mind and tongue that prays to the heavenly Father, thinks the thoughts of others around us and of ourselves. In this study we are going to look at taming our tongue with others and taming our tongue with ourselves.

Taming the tongue with others:
When working with young children, we often find that they will say whatever comes to mind, even to the embarrassment of their parents or other adults in the room. Often, children do not have a “filter,” as they say. Young minds are still learning the “dos and don’ts” of social norms and have a hard time controlling what comes from their mouths. Sometimes, we adults act the very same way. Taming our tongue is an important theme in scripture. With our tongues we can build people up, tear people down, or say the wrong thing without meaning it. How we speak and how we act toward others, fellow believer or not, is a direct representation of who our heavenly Father is and what he is about. When we look at our text in James, let’s discuss these questions:

Read James 3:1-8

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, 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. 6 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.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Discussion Questions:

  • What do you think James means when he says the tongue is also like fire?
  • How can a small “rudder” like the tongue control my being?
  • How can I control the power of my tongue?
  • What does it mean to “tame the tongue” with others and what are some ways that we can practice “taming the tongue”?
  • Look up scriptures: Proverbs 15:4, Colossians 3:12 and Galatians 5:13. Discuss with each other how these scriptures relate to learning to tame the tongue with others.

Jesus discusses this in the book of Matthew when preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:12 says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Earlier in James we are also reminded to be “quick to listen and slow to speak”. The next time you want to speak without thinking, take three deep breaths or count to 5 slowly in your head.
Or, you can come up with your own tool to use to ensure the next words out of your mouth will be glorifying to God.

Taming the tongue with ourselves:
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” This is a quote by the Dalai Lama. This concept may be easy to practice with others. For many of us, it is easy to love others and treat others with compassion but, do we offer ourselves the same kindness? We are our own worst critics, however; we are still children of the almighty God! So many of us talk to ourselves and use words and thoughts that we wouldn’t dare say to another person. I’m too much of….., I will never be…., I will never look like…., I will never succeed like…, I’M NOT ENOUGH! But we are God’s children. God’s Chosen. Created in HIS image. As we dive back into our passage in James chapter 3, Let’s read verses 9-12.

Read James 3:9-12

“9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Let’s insert ourselves into the passage in James. “With the tongue we praise our Lord, and with it we curse human beings,” and how about “and with it we curse ourselves, who have been made in God’s likeness”. Or, we can make it even more personal: “And with it we curse__________(your first and last name), who have been made in God’s likeness”.

Discussion Questions:

  • What do you think the definition of “self-talk” is and how does that relate to taming the tongue within us?
  • What does “Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring?” mean?
  • Why do you think it can be easier to praise and uplift others and not provide the same love and affection for ourselves?
  • Look up scriptures: Ephesians 4:29-30, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, and Philippians 4:8-9. Have a conversation about how these scripture verses provide evidence that God wants us to “tame the tongue” when speaking to ourselves.

Positive self-talk is not a new concept. Treating our body as a temple of the Lord includes our minds as well. Just as we would not want to clutter our minds and hearts with other sins and admirations of the world, we should also not clutter them with thoughts that berate a child of God. Galatians 4:7 says: “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” The next time you want to hurt yourself with negative words and thoughts, remember whose you are and tame that tongue!

Final discussion questions:
Just like with anything worth doing, taming the tongue requires practice, practice, practice!

  • What are some ways we can practice taming the tongue to others?
  • What are strategies we can use to keep ourselves from being “quick to speak”?
  • What are some ways we can practice taming our tongue with ourselves?
  • Do you think there is a correlation between how we view/talk to ourselves and how we view/talk to others?

Download a printable version of this Bible study:

May 2024 Craft: Door Hanging Wreath

By Lt. Katherine Hernandez
Salinas, CA Corps – Golden State Division

As we discover the power our tongues have and identify ways in which we can better control it, let us create a lovely door hanging wreath. As we gather together and begin to create something beautiful, may we be reminded how important it is to be intentional about using the words that come out of our mouth in a way that will bless and uplift others. As you create this door hanging decoration, be reminded how powerful a simple “hello” or “welcome” can be to someone when done out of love.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Grapevine wreath (the one I used was 18” in diameter)
  • Mix of faux flowers and foliage
  • Greenery
  • Wired Ribbon
  • Wooden lettering (optional) I used the word Hello.
  • Paint for the wooded lettering (I used white, but you can paint the lettering any color you want) (this is optional as well)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Floral wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Jute rope for hanging wreath (optional)

Step 1:
Start by painting your wooden lettering (this step is optional, as you do not need to add lettering to your wreath. I did, as I wanted to give my wreath a little something extra). You only need to paint the front and the sides, don’t worry about painting the back part (no one will see it). You may also need to give the lettering two or three coats of paint, depending on how dark you want it to be. Once painted, set aside and let it dry.

Step 2:
Cut the flowers and greenery. Then roughly arrange them on the wreath- this will give you an idea of spacing and placement. You can arrange the flowers and greenery however you like. I arranged mine on half of one side of the wreath. You can arrange them on the bottom, top, all around, etc.
When I begin to arrange my flowers and greenery, I start with the greenery first, then I add the flowers and other foliage. Once I like the placement of it, I start to hot glue it all to the wreath. Again, I begin with the greenery, then move to the flowers, and lastly the other foliage.

Step 3:
Make a bow using the wired ribbon. Once you have your bow made, you can attach it to the wreath using floral wire or using the glue gun.  

Step 4:
It’s time to attach our painted wooden sign. You can attach it using floral wire or using the glue gun. You can place your wooden sign wherever you like.

Step 5:
Cut some jute rope and hot glue it to the back of the wreath in order to hang it, unless you already have a metal door wreath hanger.

There you have it! you just created a beautiful door hanging wreath. You can now hang it on your front door (or any other place you like around your home).

I hope that you had a fun time creating this beautiful door decoration. I pray that it blesses your heart, as well as those who enter your home.

Download printable directions:

May 2024 Devotional: Taming the Tongue in Prayer

By Captain Charlene Morrow
Monterey Peninsula, CA Corps – Golden State Division

Have you ever heard the phrase “Pics or it didn’t happen?” This term originated in the early 2000’s in chat rooms. The phrase means “show us photographic evidence of your adventures or we are forced to assume you are lying about the whole thing!” Now that social media has turned into so much more than chat rooms, it is a standard marketing tool for companies, celebrities, and the average Joe. Most of those using social media platforms post the “pic” without even being prompted. So many users cannot just say they are having an amazing adventure, they feel as though they must prove it as well.

How does this concept relate to our prayer lives? Matthew 6:5-8 says:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

When Jesus is preaching the sermon on the mount in Matthew chapter 6, one of the topics he addresses is prayer. Some of the key components of how to pray and how not to pray are: DO NOT pray like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing so they can be seen by others. DO, go into the room, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. DO NOT keep babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard for their many words. YOUR Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Questions we can ask ourselves and reflect upon our prayer life:

  • How do you pray? Is it a quiet time of petition?
  • Do you offer praises to our God of thanksgiving?
  • Are you keeping others around you in your prayers, or are your prayers to the Lord mostly requesting intervention for your own benefit?
  • Do you pray alone or with others?
  • Do you offer your petitions out loud in the Bible study group or Sunday school class?
  • What is the motive behind the prayer? Are you “babbling” to be seen and heard?

God already knows our prayers and the desires and woes of our hearts. It is okay that we should want to share our victories and struggles with our fellow believers. That encourages the godly fellowship we should have in our church community. However, we should be careful we are not falling into a “photographic evidence required” lifestyle. We do not need to carry on, to each other or to God, to “prove” that our prayer is valuable enough, real enough, or of the highest priority. God knows! Our Father sees what is done in secret. The challenge we have is to tame the tongue in our prayer lives! Let us not get too carried away with the babbling on to God or the sharing of prayer requests with each other, that we forget who the prayer is intended for!

1 John 5:14-15 says:

 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

May 2024 Flourish Newsletter

This month we are focusing on flourishing by being deeply rooted in the spiritual discipline of control of the tongue. In her book, Spiritual Disciplines: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes, “Control of the tongue involves an intentional awareness and governance of words as well as tone of voice in all communication.” And the desire from this discipline is “to turn the destructive way I use words into authentic, loving and healing speech.”

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Inside you will find a devotional, conversation starters, prayer ideas, helpful tips and quotes, and a monthly Bible reading plan all centered around the idea of disciplining our tongues.

Download this month’s issue:

Controlling the Tongue

By Colonel Genevera Vincent

I remember as a child repeating the words of the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s very interesting that the words were often repeated through tears and sobs as a defense against an unkind word spoken or name calling. The defense was very weak as there is no shred of truth to the adage. Words are indeed powerful and can hurt deeply! Because words are powerful, we need to choose them carefully.

Rotary International has what they call, “The Four-Way Test” …of the things we think, say, or do…

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build good will and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

I love this four-way test and I believe that if we all incorporated it in our lives, a lot of damage could be avoided.

Incidents from childhood and even adulthood may be foggy preventing us from recalling all the particulars of the incident, but we often will remember words spoken…both negative and positive. As children of God, it is very important that we have good control of the tongue. That may come easy for some people, and it may require great discipline for others. I am sure we all wish we could take back unkind words spoken. While we can’t take back words once they are spoken, “I’m sorry” is undeniably powerful and often life giving!

We have all no doubt heard it said that we should listen twice as much as we speak. There is such truth to that statement, and we would do well to heed its warning. I believe words come from a deep place within us and when we are personally troubled by the words we speak and wish we could take them back, we may need to ask deeper questions:

  • Why do I react with words the way I do?
  • Is there something from my past that I am still holding onto that causes me to say the things I say?

If we want to flourish, and be deeply rooted in the spiritual disciplines, we need to exercise great control and wisdom with our words. The Bible says a great deal about the tongue and words.

In Matthew 15:11, Jesus said, “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth. That is what makes him unclean.” The disciples asked Jesus to further explain to them what he meant by that, and his response was, simply put, eating something without washing your hands does not make a person unclean, but the words spoken from his lips does, because words essentially come from the heart. It is out of the heart that evil thoughts, murder, adultery etc. come.

There is much wisdom to be gained from the Proverbs. I am quoting several Proverbs here that we might need to sit with for a moment or two, drinking in the truth and sitting quietly, ask ourselves, “How are these Proverbs showing up in my life? Are they showing up at all? What do I need to do to ensure that my life and words reflect Jesus?”

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
“He who guards his mouth, and his tongue, keeps himself from calamity.” (Proverbs 21:23)
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.” (Proverbs16:23)
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

James also speaks about the importance of control of the tongue. He refers to it as taming the tongue. He says, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.” (3:6) Taming the tongue may not always be easy but it certainly is essential for the child of God. We want our words to matter, to heal, to edify, to be life giving. I am grateful that with the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, it is possible to tame the tongue and for our words to be encouraging and uplifting to our fellow man and honoring to God.

I think we would all admit that at times we get it wrong, no matter how well intentioned we are, no matter how close we walk with God. We must admit that sometimes we are too quick to speak and too slow to listen. It’s bound to happen; we are human after all. None of us will be perfect, this side of eternity. To flourish in the spiritual disciplines requires us to admit when our words are not edifying and apologize when necessary. An apology is truly life giving!

I pray that as we seek to control the tongue, we will, with the Psalmist David say, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my tongue” (Psalm 34:1). With God’s praise on our tongue, we can’t go wrong! With God’s praise on our tongue, we will flourish!