“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity” (Jas. 3:6). It is because of this we are told to “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (Jas. 1:19). Why would James be so intent on exhorting us so? Earlier in the chapter, James reveals that we are going to face trials, and temptation. When trials come from life (and they will) they will test our patience. That is their design. We are to champion those trials and to “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas. 1:4). When temptations come we are to endure them, for the Lord says “blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jas. 1:12).

Knowing this, if we are not careful we will react hastily and with wrath – usually (beginning) with our words. If you don’t think this is true, just look around at our society, at our neighborhoods, at our own families – at ourselves. Let us now notice a few Scriptures that admonish us of the dangers and folly of an uncontrolled tongue:

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19).

“He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Prov. 13:3).

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge” (Prov. 14:7).

“He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29).

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32).

“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Prov. 17:27-28).

“He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13).

“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (Prov. 29:11).

“Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 29:20).

“Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven and you on earth; therefore let your words be few” (Eccl. 5:2).

“Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Eccl. 7:9).

May these passages soak into my heart and yours, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Jas. 1:20).