James - Chapter 3 is a great chapter in the Bible about the use of the tongue. The book of Proverbs also speaks a lot about being wise in our speech.
On the day of Pentecost it was a tongue of fire that came upon people. Unfortunately, carefulness in our speech is not sufficiently emphasised in Christendom. If you are serious about serving God, you must take the matter of controlling your tongue very seriously. Failure in this area is one of the main reasons why many preachers don't have the word of God when they speak. If you want to be a spokesman for God, you must first of all, "remove all the worthless from the precious" in your ordinary day-to-day conversation (Jeremiah 15:19). If you speak idle words in your ordinary conversation, you cannot expect God to speak through you when you stand in the pulpit. A second reason is unfaithfulness with money. God does not give true riches from His Word to preachers who are unfaithful with money (Luke 16:11).
The tongue is like the bit that is put into a horse's mouth with which the horse can be controlled and turned in any direction (James 3:3). Horses that don't have a bit in their mouth will run wild - and such horses accomplish nothing. Horses that win prizes in races are those that allow themselves to be controlled by the bits in their mouths. If you want to accomplish something with your life for God let Him put a bit and a bridle in your mouth. Tell the Lord that you want Him to control your speech totally.
The tongue is also compared to the rudder of a ship (James 3:4). The rudder is a small steel-plate at the rear-end of every boat and ship. When you turn the rudder one way the ship turns in the same direction. It is a small piece at the back of the ship that turns a huge ship in the direction it should go.
Your tongue is the test of your spirituality - and not your activity or your Bible-knowledge. Show me the way you use your tongue and I will tell you whether you are a spiritual person or not. James uses all these examples to show us the importance of the tongue. It's only a small part of the body, but what a fire it can start (James 3:5)! Many believers' tongues are set on fire with the fire of hell (James 3:6).
"Nobody can tame the tongue" (James 3:7, 8). In a circus, even lions and tigers are tamed - and some men even put their heads inside the lion's mouth - and the lion doesn't bite them off. But no-one can tame the tongue. What is the solution for this problem? We must ask the Holy Spirit to tame it in us. That was why when the Holy Spirit fell upon people on the day of Pentecost, a tongue of fire rested on their heads. The Holy Spirit was saying thereby, "I want to control your tongue with the fire of God from now on." Many Christians haven't understood this.
It's a great tragedy that many who preach the baptism in the Holy Spirit today are more eager to get people speak in other tongues than to lead them to speak graciously at all times in their mother tongue. This is what has resulted in many counterfeits among those who "speak in tongues".
The Holy Spirit has given me the gift of speaking in an unknown language to my heavenly Father, and I praise Him for that. But above all, He enabled me to control my mother tongue - and I praise Him even more for this. This is how we can know whether we received the Holy Spirit or some other false spirit. Apply this test to yourself: "Can you control your mother tongue?" If not, reject every other spirit you have received and seek God again to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Tell God that you want to have the power to speak graciously at all times. Only the Holy Spirit can tame the tongue. How can you bless God in the church-meeting and then curse men afterwards (James 3:9)?