1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or 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. 5Likewise 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. 6The 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 his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3 1-12 New International Version – NIV
As a child I was taught that sticks and stones would break our bones but words would never hurt … not true!! Words can cause great pain, start wars, create malice or worse. Many, many relationships have been affected by negative words. There seems to be no shortage of persons lying in wait ready to spew words that cut down and burn and damage and destroy giving little regard for the ones they’ve wounded.
Of course there are others who ended ‘wounding by accident’ . Words spoken in innocence can end up causing great pain to others. The passage above shows that our tongue can be used to build up as well as to tear down. It’s important to be conscious of the effect our words have on others and to do our best to speak words that heal, words that are positive, caring and uplifting and words that are capable of bearing good fruit.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. St Luke 6:45 – NIV. If God were to search my heart today, what would He find there? If I were to defend myself in a conversation today, how would I speak?
The Word says we praise God with the same tongue we use to curse those who were made in His likeness… As I replay my last conversation, I try to answer some hard questions. Were my words uplifting? Did we end on a good note? Did I take responsibility for any misunderstanding I may have caused? Was I genuine in my apology? Was I truthful and honest in my discussion? Did I consider the feelings of the person I was speaking with? When the conversation is repeated, what will the hearer think about me? Was God pleased with what I said? Did my attitude and body language match up to my words?
For we all go wrong in a number of things. If a man never makes a slip in his talk, then he is a complete man and able to keep all his body in control. James 3:2 – (Bible in Basic English ) Many of us will make mistakes and say things we don’t mean. What we choose to do when our words hurt make all the difference.
Father, I confess that I am not always mindful of what I say or mindful of how my words can cause pain to others. Help me to be sensitive to those I interact with and help me to be compassionate when I speak so that my words my bring healing and not hurt. When I find myself on the receiving end of unpleasant words, help me to respond as You would even if I am being wronged. Please place in me a greater longing for the things of You so that when I speak, the overflow of my heart will be things that bring You praise. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Teach me to forgive as You do. Amen.
Toni R (c)