Here’s what James has to say about the tongue:
… take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Before we get our “God Hates Tongues” sign out and start marching, let’s spend a little more time looking at this. It seems obvious that when James is talking about the tongue, he’s referring to how you use your words. Basically, he’s saying “They may not draw blood or break bones, but your words can still be violent. Be careful with that.” We can all probably think of times where we’ve been on both the receiving and delivering end of some nasty verbal communication. Each is damaging in it’s own way.
Fortunately, there’s an upside to words. While words have the potential to be violent, they can also be kind, generous and encouraging. I realize this is pretty complicated so below you’ll find a couple “violent” phrases and ways they could be turned into something more kind.
You’re nose is huge and your pores are the size of moon craters.
Instead, try something like “The size of your nose reminds me of the huge amount of grace God shows us and your pores remind me of the depth of his love for us.”
You are so dumb your brain must be the size of a peanut.
Instead, try something like “The size of your brain reminds me the Bible hero, Samson.”
I should mention that I’ve been working at “reframing” violent phrases like this for quite a while so I’m pretty good at it (obviously). Since you are just starting out, you probably won’t be as awesome as me. One newbie mistake is that you’ll likely come up with things that may sound less violent, but are actually just condescending. You’ll want to keep an eye out for that.