Is it me or do you feel as if there’s more grumbling and complaining lately than people speaking life and joy to each other? Scripture tells us the grumbling and complaining are not from the Lord and the more we grumble the more discontented and unhappy that we feel.
It could be in our community, it could be in the schools, in politics, and within the church, the attempt of dividing people who are created in the image of God is increasing. Can you relate? It is our own selfish nature that wants to be heard, or have the last word. We can speak without thinking and cause a forest fire.
James 3:2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
Yes, another blog post on self-control, do we speak life or do we speak death? The tongue is to be used to speak life. In the Book of James, we are reminded the tongue has the potential to speak wonderful blessings or even curses.
James 3:7 - 10 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.
The tongue is defined, in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as, “a fleshy movable muscular process of the floor of the mouths..the human speech organ”, or “manner or quality of utterance with respect to tone or sound, the sense of what is expressed, or the intention of the speaker”. What is our intention when we speak?
In the Bible, James chapter 3 is full of wisdom regarding the tongue and learning self-control. It describes the rudder of a ship and the bit within a horse’s mouth. We have horses, most want to please their owner, however, they also have a stubborn streak and are powerful, majestic animals. The horse can be ridden in a halter when there is a great relationship between horse and rider. When the rider needs to ensure more control of the horse, be it a mountain trail, a cattle drive, or a new rider without a relationship, a bit provides pressure inside the horse’s mouth. Some bits are harsh and cruel while other bits are gentle in pressure.
Horse bits are connected to the reins, the reins provide guidance to the horse for the rider. As our kids were learning to ride, I likened the reins and bit to holding the hand of the horse through its mouth. Our horses wanted to please the rider, my daughter could ride bareback in a halter at times in the fields and at 4 H events because of their healthy relationship.
James 3:3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
The tongue is one of the smallest muscles in the whole entire body but it can pack a punch or a flame. Why is the tongue a powerful body part? It can hurt or I can heal. It can set your life up for good or create a forest fire, as James shared.
What is your tongue doing today is it providing hope, encouragement, love, teaching, or providing hurt, shame, and guilt? I am checking my own attitude. I want to douse the ashes of conflict and instead pour blessings and life into those I meet. How about you?
A wise elder, your parent or grandparents’ wisdom may have taught deep breathes and counting to ten as a calming technique. It is not just to see if you are smart in math! The pause allows you to reconsider future actions and words you might speak.
James 3: 13 - 18 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Being a peacemaker is possible if we stop the pride and selfish attitude (sin) and instead seek wisdom from God. It does not mean we let people step on us. We all need a little grace. I open my mouth and insert my foot often.
Wise tips: Listen well. Try to reframe the persons statements back to them. Clarify that you understand what they’re trying to say. Validate their feelings. And then answer softly and slowly. Be mindful of your words, this way you can douse the potential of a flame.
We the Messengers is an awesome Christian music artist because his lyrics give wisdom, he speaks disciplined in love, and this song is awesome!! It just reminds us to keep our eyes focused in the right space. “Come What May” is his most recent song. I saw him in concert, the artist is as humble and gifted as he sounds.
Enjoy your day and join me to stamp out a few fires by watching your words. 🙂