“Your mouth controls your personality” is a sermon interpretation of James 3: 1-12. While the tongue may be small, it is very significant.
It is a small muscle but a mouthful of muscle. Just as a small rudder can guide a large ship. Would you all think of a large ship out in Puget Sound? It is amazing that such a small rudder, only five feet high, can guide a huge ship that is longer than a football field. James also uses the analogy of a bridal on a horse. A small bridal can guide a great, tall horse.
So it is with the little tongue in our mouth. That little muscle in our mouth controls our whole personality. It is amazing that such a little muscle has such power to control the direction of our whole personality. In my mouth, my tongue must weigh perhaps a pound at the most, but my body weighs more than two hundred pounds. That is, the tongue is only one half of one percent of the total weight of my body, but that little one pound of flesh in my mouth can control the whole direction of my life. The tongue is so small but it is a powerful part of my personality.
Counselors understand this. Counselors tell us that if you can change the language of a person, you can actually change the person. If you can change the words that a person uses, you can change the feelings inside of that person. For example: if you have a bad habit of cursing, swearing and cussing; if you have a person problem with your mouth and its spews out bad language; if you start to change those words, that will actually begin to change the way you feel as a person inside.
Or, if you have a problem with being critical, complaining, being consistently negative about people, always being picky with the faults of other people; if you change the words that come out of your mouth, you will start to change your very personality and the feelings inside of that personality.
James was right. He said that a small rudder controls a large ship; a small bridle controls a big horse; a small muscle like the tongue controls our whole personality.
In the wisdom of James about the tongue, we discover that the tongue is very vulnerable to sin. Jesus warned us that the part of the body that was vulnerable to sin was the eye. The eye had a very common problem with lust. Jesus said, cut it out. The eye is filled with greed and covetousness, coveting what other things other people have. The eye is a problem that Jesus talks about, but for James, the problem was the tongue. The whole cosmos of sin, the whole universe of sin is now found in the tongue. The tongue comes from the fires of hell itself. Sin concentrates itself in this little muscle in the mouth called the tongue. The tongue is incredibly vulnerable to be infected with sin.
James also says that James says that the tongue is full of deadly poison. You almost have a feeling that a spider came along and bit the tongue in such a way that the tongue became filled with deadly poison, spitting its venom out against the world.
James say the tongue is like fire. James says that the tongue is like a spark that sets off a whole fire. That happens all the time at our house. For example, I will say sharply at the dinner table, “Did you say that?” She responds, “I don’t like your tone of voice.” It is interesting, with one small line, I can set the table on fire. I can do it. My wife can. My kids when they were at home. Any one of us can do this. We are all capable. I can say sharply, “I don’t like how you are eating.” And it is like throwing a spark into a puddle of gas and the whole thing flames up instantly. The tongue is like a spark that instantaneously ignites a huge fire around the table.
The tongue can cause irreparable harm. I love the following quotation because it is so true. This quotation is not from James. The quotation says: “A sent arrow, a word unkindly spoken, and a missed opportunity cannot be retrieved.” You cannot return an arrow, an unkind word, or find again a missed opportunity. It is amazing to me that you can give a thousand words of praise to a person but make one harsh statement to that same person and that person will remember the harsh words. As soon as you said the words, you wish that you could bring them back but the damage has already been done.
The wisdom of James: “You cannot control perfectly the tongue. No one can tame the tongue. We can tame all kinds of animals. We can tame lions and tigers and elephants and dogs and parrots and dolphins and whales. I have seen all these bird and animals trained, but James says that no one can tame the tongue. No one. Absolutely no one. You have tried and you all have failed. You have said to yourself: I am not going to say what I am feeling. I am not going to say it. I am not…and in the next breath, you blurt it out. You tried to control the tongue but you failed. How many of us have had that experience?
Knowing that none of us can control our tongue; knowing that all of us are guilty of name calling, hostility, judging others and gossip; knowing that all of us have this problem; James said that it is very difficult to live out the law of love. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. It is very difficult to live out this law of love because of … the tongue.
The wisdom of James. James also says that the tongue is so two-sided. The tongue gives thanks to God in one breath and in the next breath, we curse and judge our fellow human beings. For example, we come to church on Sunday morning, and we will sing our songs of praise and thanksgiving. Then, on the way out of church, we may say to our friend or spouse, “Did you see so and so today? Did you see the way that so and so took care of her kids? Did you see the look that he gave to her?” A person sings praise and thanksgiving and we walk right out of church and we are critical of someone that we saw.
Or, let’s say that we are saying prayers at our house. This is the way that it worked at our house. “Dear God in heaven. Thank you for the meal today. Thank you that we can all be gathered together as a family. Thanks you Jesus and be with the children. In your name we pray. Amen.”
The conversation, “Jan, did you hear what I heard about Mrs. So and So. You will like this one.” It is amazing that a person can finish praying and in the next breath start gossiping, saying something behind somebody’s back and never even blinking an eye. Not even sensing the irony of the whole thing. We love our spouse, children, friends and praise them in one moment, and in the very next moment, we may say something derogatory about them.
The wisdom of James says that the tongue is so quickly two sided. James shakes his head and says, “On the one hand we give thanks to God, and in the next breath (not after ten breaths), in the very next breath, we curse, condemn, gossip, or judge some fellow human being.
What is the purpose of the tongue? Why did God put a tongue in our mouth in the first place? Why didn’t God simply give us a brain or simply give us a heart? Why did God give us a tongue in the first place?
To answer this question, we need to go to the book of Genesis and the story of the Garden of Eden and the story of Adam and Eve. In the creation story, we discover that human beings have been given a tongue in order to express praise and thanksgiving. God originally created the tongue for praise and thanksgiving. God put a tongue in our mouths so we could communicate our love to God through words of praise and thanksgiving.
God also put a tongue in our mouths so that Adam and Eve could express praise and thanksgiving to one another. But then the snake came along and filled their tongues with poison. Adam and Eve started criticizing each other, complaining about this and that. Pick a little, pick, pick, pick.
Not only does God enjoy praise and thanksgiving, so do human beings. That is the purpose of the tongue: to express praise and thanksgiving to God and to one another.
This is at the heart of a person’s self esteem. All people, whether they be little children or older adults, need strong self esteem. Self esteem is built and nourished and enlarged when those people receive praise and thanksgiving. As much as a garden needs rain in order to grow, so we need praise and thanksgiving to be healthy human beings. That is the way we are wired.
The opposite is also true. The cruelest, unkind things you can ever do is to withhold praise and thanksgiving from God or from one another. To withhold praise and thanksgiving from a child is one of the cruelest things that could ever be done to a child. And to withhold praise and thanksgiving from a youth, is one of the cruelest things that a person could do. To withhold praise and thanksgiving from one’s spouse or children or family or friends, that is not the way God made us. God has made the tongue in such a way is that we are to express praise and thanksgiving. Period!
The tongue. It is so small but it is so significant. It takes a little rudder and you can steer a great big ship. You can take a small bridle and you can steer a great big horse. You take a small tongue and it steers the whole direction of our personality.
Jesus said, “This is the fundamental moral law by which you are to live. You are to love your neighbor the way that I love your neighbor. You are to love your neighbor with words of praise and thanksgiving. May Jesus touch our tongue and heal them and fill them with praise. Amen.
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Personality Plus for Couples: Understanding Yourself and the One You Love
Personality and Relationships
"And above all, have fervent love for one another: for love shall cover the multitude of sins."
- Peter 4.8
Most of us are probably allured by the attractive notion that effortless relationships exist. Whether it be happily-ever-after marriages, or friendships which last forever, or parent/child bonds which supercede the need to understand each other, we'd all like to believe that our most intimate relationships are unconditional, and strong enough to withstand whatever may come. However, at some point in our lives most of us need to face the fact that relationships require effort to keep them strong and positive, and that even wonderful, strong relationships can be destroyed by neglect.
Whether you're looking to improve a love relationship, familial relationships, friendships, or employer/employee relationships, understanding your own personality type and the personality type of the other person involved in the relationship will bring a new dynamic to the situation, which will allow better understanding and communication. Although the different types of relationships have very different characteristics and specific needs, there are two basic areas which seem to be critical in all relationships: Expectations and Communication. What do we expect from ourselves and the other person involved in the relationship? How do we communicate these expectations, and our feelings and opinions to the person in the relationship? How does our personality type affect our expectations and methods of communication? Does our personality type affect who we are romantically attracted to? How does it affect who our friends are, and who we work with best?
Please note that we are not prescribing an absolute solution to your relationship problems, nor are we stating that there's any guarantee of improved odds with particular type pairings. Statistics show that individuals who are most happy within their marriages are those who have the highest levels of inner peace and those who have the most optimistic outlook on life in general. We do not address people's emotional standing here when discussing relationship issues, which is another important aspect of relationship dynamics.
That old concept and expression "opposites attract" has been batted around for centuries. And in fact, it's very true when it comes to love relationships. Through our research, we have noted that people are usually attracted to their opposite on the Extraversion/Introversion and Judging/Perceiving scales. We are naturally attracted to individuals who are different from ourselves - and therefore somewhat exciting. But it's not just the exciting differences which attract us to our opposites, it is also a natural quest for completion. We naturally are drawn towards individuals who have strengths which we are missing. When two opposites function as a couple, they become a more well-rounded, functioning unit. There is also the theory that our natural attraction to our opposites is a subconscious way of forcing us to deal with the weaker aspects of our own nature. While we are highly attracted to our opposites, two opposites involved in an intimate relationship have significant issues and communication barriers to overcome. So in a sense, our attraction to the opposite personality can be seen as our subconscious minds driving us towards becoming a more complete individual, by causing us to face the areas in life which are most difficult to us.
The same cannot be said for other kinds of relationships. When it comes to work colleagues, or friends, we are not especially interested in dealing with people who are very unlike ourselves. We are most comfortable with those who have similar interests and perspectives, and we do not show a lot of motivation or patience for dealing with our opposites.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Although we are attracted to people who are very different from us in the way we deal with the world, we are most attracted to others who have a similar focus in their lives. Couples who have the same dominant function in their personalities seems to have the longest and happiest relationships. So, for example, an individual whose dominant function is Introverted Sensing (ISTJ or ISFJ) seems to be naturally drawn towards partners with a dominant function of Extraverted Sensing (ESTP or ESFP).
We have also noticed that Sensors seem to communicate best with other Sensors, and that Intuitives seem to communicate best with other Intuitives. There seems to be a more equal partnership formed with people who communicate on the same level, although there are many successful relationships between Sensors and Intuitives. Two individuals of any type who are well-developed and balanced can communicate effectively and make a relationship work, but many people will communicate best with people who share their same information gathering preference.
With that in mind, it shouldn't come as any surprise to learn that research regarding Personality Type and Relationships shows a definite pattern which indicates that successful mates often share the same dominant function, and the same letter preference ("S" or "N") for their information gathering function. Of course, that does not mean that people with different preferences cannot have a happy, successful marriage, it simply indicates that people frequently settle down with individuals who are on their same "wave-length".
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