I've read these verses many times and got the basics of what James is saying here but it wasn't until I was reading this chapter that it hit me. I CANNOT use my mouth to be both harsh to my kids or my husband AND praise God in song. Can. Not. Do. It!
And why is that? My cute, adorable, frustrating, loud children are made in God's image. So when I speak harshly to them I'm actually speaking harsh words to their Creator! Say what? That insight has changed my speech - for the better. I still lash out at my family from time to time, but the Holy Spirit is taming my tongue and reminding me that these precious little (or not so little anymore) people are God's gift to me.
Lysa TerKeurst, says, "Our best efforts at human reasoning and willpower can't tame what we say externally (exploding) or experience internally (stuffing). Self-effort alone can't tame the tongue and our raw emotions that run wild."
When God shows me something new in His Word I'm often tempted to try to conquer that on my own, in my own power. But, as Lysa points out, our best efforts aren't going to accomplish lasting change. We desperately need the Holy Spirit to convict us, mold us, and change us!!