Bible Study Guides – Patience; Power of the Tongue

May 8, 2004 – May 14, 2004

Memory Verse

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19.

Suggested Reading: The Acts of the Apostles, 464, 465; Testimonies, vol. 4, 348, 349; Christ’s Object Lessons, 335–339.


“We can have the salvation of God in our families, but we must believe for it, live for it, and have a continual, abiding faith and trust in God. We must subdue a hasty temper and control our words, and in this we shall gain great victories. Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves to Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All jangling and unpleasant, impatient, fretful words are an offering presented to his satanic majesty. And it is a costly offering, more costly than any sacrifice we can make for God, for it destroys the peace and happiness of whole families, destroys health, and is eventually the cause of forfeiting an eternal life of happiness. The restraint which God’s word imposes upon us is for our own interest. It increases the happiness of our families and of all around us. It refines our taste, sanctifies our judgment, and brings peace of mind, and, in the end, everlasting life. Under this holy restraint we shall increase in grace and humility, and it will become easy to speak right. The natural, passionate temper will be held in subjection. An indwelling Saviour will strengthen us every hour.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 310.

1 What is the greatest victory any person can ever achieve? Proverbs 16:32; 14:29. Compare Proverbs 25:28.

note: “It is much easier to play the martyr than to overcome a bad temper. We must give others an example of not stopping at every trifling offense in order to vindicate our rights. We may expect that false reports will circulate about us; but if we follow a straight course, if we remain indifferent to these things, others will also be indifferent. Let us leave to God the care of our reputation. And thus, like sons and daughters of God, we shall show that we have self-control. We shall show that we are led by the Spirit of God, and that we are slow to anger.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3,1160, 1161.

2 What is said concerning those who speak impatient, hasty words? Proverbs 29:20; Ecclesiastes 7:9; James 1:19.

note: “In the use of language, there is, perhaps, no error that old and young are more ready to pass over lightly in themselves than hasty, impatient speech. They think it is a sufficient excuse to plead, ‘I was off my guard, and did not really mean what I said.’ But God’s word does not treat it lightly. . . .

“The largest share of life’s annoyances, its heartaches, its irritations, is due to uncontrolled temper. In one moment, by hasty, passionate, careless words, may be wrought evil that a whole lifetime’s repentance cannot undo. Oh, the hearts that are broken, the friends estranged, the lives wrecked, by the harsh, hasty words of those who might have brought help and healing!” Messages to Young People, 134, 135.

3 What caution is given in the Word regarding fretfulness (irritableness)? Psalm 37:8, 9, first part.

note: “Let not one word of fretfulness, harshness, or passion escape your lips. The grace of Christ awaits your demand. His Spirit will take control of your heart and conscience, presiding over your words and deeds. Never forfeit your self-respect by hasty, thoughtless words. See that your words are pure, your conversation holy. Give your children an example of that which you wish them to be. . . . Let there be peace, pleasant words, and cheerful countenances.” Child Guidance, 219.

“When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there. None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.” Maranatha, 58.

4 What is said regarding those who do not control their tongues? James 1:26.

note: “You have deceived yourself. If any man seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that man’s religion is vain. Treat your family in a manner that Heaven can approve, and so that peace may be in your dwelling. There needs to be everything done for your family. Your children have had your bad example before them; you have blamed, and censured, and manifested a passionate spirit at home, while you would, at the same time, address the throne of grace, attend meeting, and bear testimony in favor of the truth. These exhibitions have led your children to despise you and the truth you profess. They have no confidence in your Christianity. They believe you to be a hypocrite, and it is true that you are a sadly deceived man. You can no more enter heaven without a thorough change than could Simon Magus, who thought that the Holy Ghost could be bought with money. [See Acts 8:14–24.] Your family have seen your overreaching spirit, your readiness to take advantage of others, your penurious spirit toward those with whom you sometimes deal, and they despise you for it; yet they will too surely follow in your footsteps of wrongdoing.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 86, 87.

5 What vow did David make in reference to his words? Psalm 39:1.

note: “My children, watch unto prayer, and become more and more careful in regard to your words and your deportment. ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation’ (Matthew 26:41). It is poor policy to give the enemy the slightest advantage. My son, be gentlemanly, and you will strengthen your influence over those with whom you work. Never speak unadvisedly. Let your respect for yourself as Christ’s representative keep you from giving way to anger. If we respect ourselves by wearing Christ’s yoke, we shall increase our influence tenfold.” This Day With God, 70.

6 For what will each one be called to account? Matthew 12:36, 37. Why? Verse 34.

note: “The words we utter today will go on echoing when time shall be no more. The deeds done today are transferred to the books of heaven, just as the features are transferred by the artist onto the polished plate. They will determine our destiny for eternity, for bliss or eternal loss and agonizing remorse. Character cannot be changed when Christ comes, nor just as a man is about to die. Character building must be done in this life.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 429, 430.

“In the book of God’s remembrance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ’s sake, is recorded.” The Great Controversy, 481.

7 If able to control the tongue, what else are we able to do? James 3:2.

note: “It is the grace of God that you need in order that your thoughts may be disciplined to flow in the right channel, that the words you utter may be right words, and that your passions and appetites may be subject to the control of reason, and the tongue be bridled against levity and unhallowed censure and faultfinding. [James 3:2 quoted.] The greatest triumph given us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled, or we can never overcome as Christ overcame.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 235.

“I assure you that if you work in right lines, God will make your enemies to be at peace with you. He will uphold and strengthen you. Make a covenant with God that you will guard well your words. [James 3:2 quoted.] Remember that a revengeful speech never makes one feel that he has gained a victory. Let Christ speak through you. Do not lose the blessing that comes from thinking no evil.” Ibid., vol. 7, 243.

8 What evil is in the power of an unruly tongue? James 3:4–6.

note: “Some think it is a virtue to be unrestrained, and they will speak in praise of their outspoken habit of talking out disagreeable things which are in the heart. They let an angry spirit exhaust itself in a torrent of reproach and faultfinding. The more they talk, the more excited they become, and Satan stands by to help on the work, for it suits him. The words irritate the one to whom they are spoken, and they will be thrown back, giving provocation for still harder words, until a little matter has blazed into a great flame. Both of you feel that you have all the trials that you can possibly endure and that your lives are most unhappy. Resolutely commence the work of controlling your thoughts, your words, your actions. When either of you feels the rising of resentment, make it a rule to go by yourself and humbly pray to God, who will hearken to the prayer which goeth not forth from feigned lips.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 243.

9 By what comparison is the difficulty of controlling the tongue presented? James 3:7, 8.

note: “When tempted to give loose rein to the unruly member [the tongue], oh! bear in mind that the recording angel is noting every word. All are written in the book, and, unless washed away by the blood of Christ, you must meet them again. You now have a spotted record in heaven. Sincere repentance before God will be accepted. When about to speak passionately, close your mouth. Don’t utter a word. Pray before you speak, and heavenly angels will come to your assistance and drive back the evil angels, who would lead you to dishonor God, reproach His cause, and weaken your own soul.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 82.

10 What kinds of words are commended? Proverbs 15:1, 2. Compare Proverbs 31:26.

note: “Passionate words sow seeds that produce a bad crop which no one will care to garner. Our own words have an effect upon our character, but they act still more powerfully upon the characters of others. The infinite God alone can measure the mischief that is done by careless words. These words fall from our lips, and we do not perhaps mean any harm; yet they are the index of our inward thoughts, and work on the side of evil. What unhappiness has been produced by the speaking of thoughtless, unkind words in the family circle! Harsh words rankle in the mind, it may be for years, and never lose their sting. As professed Christians, we should consider the influence our words have upon those with whom we come into association, whether they are believers or unbelievers. Our words are watched, and mischief is done by thoughtless utterances. No after association with believers or unbelievers will wholly counteract the unfavorable influence of thoughtless, foolish words. Our words evidence the manner of food upon which the soul feeds.” The Youth’s Instructor, June 27, 1895.

11 What manner of conversation should characterize Christians? Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6. What kind of speech should never be indulged in? Ephesians 5:3, 4.

note: “The right culture and use of the power of speech has to do with every line of Christian work; it enters into the home life, and into all our intercourse with one another. We should accustom ourselves to speak in pleasant tones, to use pure and correct language, and words that are kind and courteous. Sweet, kind words are as dew and gentle showers to the soul. The Scripture says of Christ that grace was poured into His lips that He might ‘know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.’ Psalm 45:2; Isaiah 50:4. And the Lord bids us, ‘Let your speech be alway with grace’ (Colossians 4:6) ‘that it may minister grace unto the hearers’ (Ephesians 4:29).” Christ’s Object Lessons, 336.

“Those who profess to believe the third angel’s message often wound the cause of God by lightness, joking, and trifling. I was shown that this evil was all through our ranks. There should be a humbling before the Lord; the Israel of God should rend the heart, and not the garment. Childlike simplicity is rarely seen; the approbation of man is more thought of than the displeasure of God.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 133.

12 What is written concerning the 144,000? Revelation 14:5. Compare 1 Peter 2:21–23.

note: “Every worker should be pure in heart; in his mouth should be found no guile. . . .

“The true toilers in the Lord’s vineyard will be men of prayer, of faith, of self-denial—men who hold in restraint the natural appetites and passions. These will in their own lives give evidence of the power of the truth which they present to others; and their labors will not be without effect.” Gospel Workers, 80.