James – Dealing with sin
We can already feel the tension rise just from reading the title. James sets us all down as school children in the principle’s office to remind us that words can maim, hurt, and destroy. A few well placed words can suck the life from lungs of a God created individual as he/she walks away, totally deflated and devalued. Words are used by bullies to destroy their prey so they will feel more powerful and important. Words are often as deadly as physical blows to the body. Words leave scars and bruises.
Well placed, thoughtful words can also heal, comfort and give value and worth. Words of love expressed at the right time, in the right way, build and deepen relationships. Words can lead people to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Actions that follow those words solidify Truth. James says that none of us get this right every time. That is true, too. We may be thought of as great people…until we open our mouths uncontrollably and let words tumble out that are not appropriate. We need help to control the thoughts that form the words that come tumbling out of our mouths. We need to think first, then speak.
James 3, The Message
When You Open Your Mouth
1-2 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.
3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
What do we learn? It’s scary stuff!
–James says “this is scary, you can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue”. What is scarier in our day are the words we let fly with our nimble, typing fingers and post on social media!! It’s the same end result of no control. Somehow not using our tongue makes it better, less sinful? NO!
–We need to think before we type, pray before we type. When in doubt, even just a little, don’t type.
–Remember: THINK Ask this of ourselves before speaking. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? If not, don’t speak. It must pass all five filters.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Wow, this is enough to think about all day long. Help us, Lord to humble ourselves before you, repent of typing words that hurt and criticize. Guide our every thought and action. And when we open our mouths? Wow, I pray for your wisdom to tender every word before we speak. Help us, Lord. We repent of words that hurt others and therefore hurt you.
In Jesus Name, Amen