Friday, December 14, 2012
Taming the Tongue
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse the very men and women who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not be so! -James 3:9-10 (NRSV)
In this morning's suggested readings, James spends an almost an entire chapter talking about the tongue. In the same way that the small bit in a horse’s mouth is used to turn the whole animal and in the same way that a large ship is steered by a small rudder, so the tongue has that kind of power. James compares the damage that the tongue can do to a raging fire and suggests that the tongue cannot be tamed.
My first thought is that, if the tongue cannot be tamed, why should I even bother trying? Can I not do all things through Christ who strengthens me? But perhaps James is just trying to make the point that we are not and never will be perfect. There will always be times when the same tongue we use to praise God will be tempted to curse God or others; we who are created in the image of God are also bent to sinning.
But that does not mean that we should not attempt to tame our tongues. I have seen in my own life how, with God’s help, the tongue can be tamed. And I have seen the benefits of taming the tongue; it can certainly keep a person like me out of trouble.
Today, I ask God to help me tame my tongue. When I am tempted to complain about something, or tell a joke I should not tell, or gossip about someone, or brag about something, I will ask myself if my speech brings praise to God and God’s creation or does it curse that which is created by God and/or harm another child of God? There are benefits to choosing words carefully. There is value in leaving some things unsaid.
May God grant you the grace to pause before you speak today...especially if what you are about to say might damage your relationship with God or other people.
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If you're interested in reading through the Bible in a year, tomorrow's suggested readings are 1 Peter 1-5. The suggested readings for Sunday are 2 Peter 1-3 and John 1. I'll be back on Monday with a devotional through from John 2-4.
I pray that you have a blessed weekend and I hope you'll worship in a church of your choice on Sunday. If you don't have a church and live in the Fayetteville area, I invite you to either the 8:30 or 11 am worship experiences at First United Methodist Church.