Proper Uses of the Tongue
In our study of James 3 we have seen several improper uses of the tongue. However, today I would like us to consider how we can use our tongues constructively. It is not enough to merely restrain your tongue from dispensing death. You must learn how to use it to give life. Here are a few general suggestions on this point.

1. A Christian should use his tongue for prayer.
Paul commands Christians to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17). Of all the possible good uses of our tongues, what could possibly be more spiritually profitable for us than this? Pray about personal problems and for the strength to overcome special temptations. Pray for the sick and for those searching for truth. Pray for the weak and wandering brethren. Pray for the church to grow. Use your tongue to pray, pray, pray!

2. A Christian should use his tongue for praise and thanksgiving.
Hebrews 13:15 - "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." I Thessalonians 5:18 - "in everything give thanks..." Christians shouldn't attribute their good fortune to chance circumstances. Every good gift is from God (James 1:17), and He is to be praised and thanked for His goodness with our speech. In particular, a Christian should be faithful in his participation in the public praise of God through worship. We should always be eager to assemble with our brethren and to join with them in using our tongues to praise God in song (Eph. 5:19,20). Use your tongue to offer thanks and praise to the Lord!

3. A Christian should use his tongue to teach others the gospel and exhort them to obey it.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commanded His disciples: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15,16). We today should be going out and preaching the saving gospel message to every person! If you know just one person who isn't saved, then you have work to do! The truth is we all know many people who are outside the body of Christ and need to be saved. We should be busy using our tongues to try to convert our family, friends, and neighbors. It is our responsibility to plead with people to believe and obey the gospel. It is our responsibility to try to restore erring brethren. If we really believe that the gospel is able to save men from the terrors of an eternal hell, and if we really believe that the gospel can secure them a home in heaven, then we will constantly be looking for opportunities to teach it. Use your tongue to teach the good news and exhort people to obey it!

4. A Christian should use his tongue to encourage others.
We should give praise and honor to whom it is due (Rom. 13:7). Use you tongue to offer compliments to those who are doing good works. Also, we should use our tongues to encourage those who are struggling with the trials of life--whether it be personal failure, sickness, injury, bereavement, family problems, etc. We need to remind these people that we love them and then treat them with love. We need to remind them that we will pray for them and then we need to do it. We need to remind them of God's love for them and His promises like Romans 8:28 and I Corinthians 10:13. Use your tongue to encourage others (cf. Heb. 3:13)!

So friends, what about you and your use of the tongue God has given you? Are you using it constructively or destructively? Do you struggle to control your tongue? May we always remember Matthew 12:36,37 which teaches that we will give an account for our every word. To know that we will be held accountable for the words we speak should help us to control our tongues in all situations--whether we're teaching publicly, or angry at someone, or wanting to tell a joke that we shouldn't, or tempted to tell a lie or gossip, or curse under our breath, or use profanity or vulgar language, etc. In any situation you may find yourself, remember that God hears and knows everything. Use your tongue properly.