“We all fail in many areas, but especially with our words. Yet if we’re able to bridle the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way, and that means our character is mature and fully developed” (James 3:2 TPT).
“Yet if we’re able to bridle the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way.” This is an incredible statement. Later in this chapter, James compares our words to a rudder on a ship and a bit in a horse’s mouth. In other words, we set the course of our lives by what we say.
We won’t have something just by saying something, but saying something is necessary to having something.
It is clear from Scripture that our choice of words is important.
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26).
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
“By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).
“But behold, you (Zechariah) will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place” (Luke 1:20). Zechariah did not believe his words were powerful, therefore God could not trust him to speak around what He was doing.
Words are not simply the transmission of information, but they, at their highest level, are releasers of grace and life:
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it, will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Those who love the revelation that “life is in the power of the tongue” will eat the positive fruit of their past words.
“The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Grace causes us to do the will of God. Our edifying words actually cause what we are saying to happen.
Words also reveal what we believe. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Those who want to access the power of the tongue will become a student of their own words. They will ask why they use the words they do. Before we go deeper in this, let me give you an indicator to know if we actually believe words are powerful.
We don’t believe our words are powerful if we can say things like:
“Shame on you” or “shame on me”
“My back is killing me”
“It‘s driving me nuts”
“I am not a prophetic person”
“I don’t remember names well”
“I have to do this today”
Words are not simply to be used to describe our lives but, more importantly, to change our lives. “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17). It is a good thing to stop speaking corruptive, life-polluting words, but transformation and change come when we speak faith words that are in agreement with God’s promises, our victorious identity, our past prayers, and in God being with us in our important life assignments.
My life has been changed through intentional speaking. Many of the things I am experiencing right now are the result of what I started speaking over twenty-five years ago when it seemed ridiculous. This process was accelerated for me when I began considering whether the words coming out of my mouth were the highest words I could speak over myself and others..
“Yet if we’re able to bridle the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way.” Wow. What a great truth to help us increase our victory and influence.
For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.