One of the proofs of God’s working in our lives is the ability to control our own thoughts, words, and actions. We are naturally weak-willed. Our fallen nature is under the influence of missing God’s goal (aka sin).
The Bible calls it being a “slave to sin“ (Romans 6:6). One definition of sin is “filling a legitimate need through illegitimate means.” I think a good translation is “missing God’s goal”. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we are incapable of knowing and choosing how best to meet our needs.
Even if we knew what would be best, such as not smoking, another need, like comfort, would take precedence and enslave us again. Self-control is enabled by the Holy Spirit and we must allow His influence to take fruit. We must excerpt our will to come under the influence of Jesus, our Master.
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. | James 3:1–12 (NASB)
Can I control my words? My speech has an enormous influence for good or ill and is a sure guide to my character. The power of what I say is indisputable. Consider the billions spent on therapy because of what others said about us when we were young. What I say to others matters. That is tough but true.
What is the impact of my speech? It has the power of life and death. That sounds extreme but it is true. Words can kill. Words can give life. Will I choose words the bear fruit of life? Will I speak life into others? Will the love of Jesus become dominant in my words?
James is right. If I can control what I say, I am mature. Everything else follows from that.
- Psalm 141:3 (NASB) — Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.
- James 1:19 (NASB) — This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
- Psalm 17:3 (NASB) — You have tried my heart; You have visited me by night; You have tested me and You find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
- Proverbs 16:23 (NASB) — The heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
- Proverbs 21:23 (NASB) — He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.
- Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NASB) — Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.