Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! James 3:3-5
“Four Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice”
Do you recognize the title of this book?
There’s a good chance you don’t [because] the publisher reduced the title to simply, ‘My Struggle’. If you still don’t recognize it, perhaps the more familiar German title will ring a bell:
I only mention the book here for illustrative purposes. This autobiographical essay from Adolph Hitler, the intention of which was to put him and the Aryan culture in a positive light while simultaneously presenting a manifesto by which others should be eliminated, resulted in well over six million people being slaughtered. If the carnage were to be expressed in a ‘murder-to-word’ ratio, it would be 125 to 1.
That is, one hundred and twenty-five (125) people killed for each word Hitler wrote.
Our words, spoken or otherwise, can be lethal.
No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8
The Power of the Word
Everything we say or do ultimately works towards accomplishing one of two things: it either serves to build up the Kingdom of God, or serves to tear it down. The question that remains is how to know the difference. As misguided as Hitler was, we might suspect that he thought he was doing the right thing.
Clearly he was deceived.
Knowing the tongue is fueled by a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, the Apostle James sets out to provide some counsel in how we might curb the urge to blurt out or type out the first thing that enters our mind.
(Evil) wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:15-18
First, a godly word will not be aligned with worldly logic. It will not be governed by emotions — ours or somebody else’s. It won’t find its roots in pride or selfishness, nor will it be confusing to the hearer.
A godly word will be like the Father: holy, loving, and tender. It is always true and will never contradict what God has already declared in the Bible.
It has the scent of compassion.
It will bear fruit.
In it there is no prejudice or pretense. The godly word is moving towards peace, not away from it. It yields to understanding, mercy, and righteousness. And in an ironic twist, often this word is the word not spoken.
Where there is no wood, the fire goes out… Proverbs 26:20
The Apostle Paul would add…
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32
Easier Said Than Done?
The key to ease is submission. Know that our hearts are wicked and deceitful and know also that the Lord searches the heart and tests the mind. If we consistently allow Him access to these areas, He will identify the evil and give to every man according to his submitted ways and obedient doings. In other words, God will be faithful to change us as we die to our flesh and concede our will to His.
And if it’s not easy, you’re not doing it right.
Here’s the truth of the matter. If you are a Christian and you believe the Christian walk is hard, it’s not the spiritual you who is struggling, it’s the fleshly you who is having the hard time. That should be a wonderful revelation and a great comfort to you. God is revealing that it’s your old man who is laboring!
Die to that!
Suddenly we able to silence our corrupt tongues. Only what is gracious and edifying pours forth. We no longer cause the Holy Spirit to grieve, because that bitter old man and his wrath, anger, and evil speaking has been put away. The submitted saint finds it easy to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. It’s no longer a heavy burden, but the lighter load we have chosen to carry.
Does this still seem impossible?
For man it is, but not for God.
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
- Do you find your Christian walk difficult?
- Are you submitted to God’s will?
- Do you daily pick up your cross?
These articles may or may not be related:
- September 4, 2012 (proactive.typepad.com)
- Hope for Spiritual Awakening. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- Grace is in the Bible, along with purity of speech… (signposts02.wordpress.com)
- The Practice of Godliness – Train Yourself to Be Godly (buythefield.wordpress.com)
- You are Marked by God’s Love and Power! (todaysfreshmanna.wordpress.com)
- A Walk Through Proverbs;Rejecting Wisdom (promisebook.net)
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