I used to think that as long as wholesome speech comes out of my mouth and I avoid swearing, scolding or coughing out curses or speaking out “colourful words” to others, I am alright. Most christians would just do what I am doing, and this is a noble thing, there is no doubt about it.
Lately, I have become more conscious that this verse means much more than that. My tongue can also bring life or death even sharing about the things of God. In the scriptures, whether old or new testaments, you can find that there is this “tension” between life and death. For example, in Genesis, there is this Tree of Life and against it is the Tree of knowledge of good and evil (which I call the tree of death). Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the latter tree, mankind then had that sinful nature which brings death. Jesus has to die to bring life to all of us after the first Adam brought death to whole of mankind.
In (2 Corinthians 3:6-7), Paul mentioned that that Old Covenant is a ministry of death and that the New Covenant is a ministry that gives life. In (Romans 7:9 -10) Paul said that it was when the law was given that sin sprang to life and he died.
Coming back to the tongue, James described it a small part of the body,yet it can make great boasts (James 3: 5), it cannot be tamed and is a restless evil full of deadly poison (James 3:8) and it can praise God and at the same time pour out curses (James 3: 9-10). Amazing isn’t it what the tongue can do.
In the same vein, when we share the things of God, our tongue can amazingly speak/share on walking in the new convenant (which brings life) and at the same time we can talk on the walking in the requirements of the law (which brings death). We can either edify and bring life and victory or condemn and bring death and defeat to another christian life by what we say with our tongue.
In (Galatians 5:22) there is hope, there is goodnews for our restless tongue – there is the fruit of the Spirit called self control for which there is no law to address it; it is the resurrected power that raise Jesus from the dead that is in us that gives us this self control (i.e. it is not the law, it is not methods or anger management or behaviour modification or pills).
The tongue does not operate as a standalone, it is connected to our thoughts and what we harbour in our heart, for out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). When we fill our hearts and minds with the abundance grace of God (the New Covenant), our tongue will be urshered to speak on the grace of God which brings life. On the other hand, when our hearts and minds are filled with requirements of the law (the Old Covenant), our tongue will deliver condemnation and death to others. When we dwell in mixtures of law and grace, our tongue will deliver confusion to those who hear.
God knows we need self control and He already kn0ws that no methods can control the tongue and that is why in Gal 5:22, the ending part of the verse states : “Against such things there is no law.” God also knows that when we pray, our tongue can go wild and pray death instead of life to others, so that is why God gives us another enablement of the Spirit - the gift of speaking in tongues. Isn’t God amazing?
I will continue to speak life with my tongue for if we look at the last part of the verse in (Proverbs 18:21), it says “..and those who love it will eat its fruit”. I want to eat the fruit of life, so I will continue to share on the amazing Grace of God. Nothing can stop me because it is the Love of God that compels. Rejoice.