Saturday, March 3
“…but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way.”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
What a load of garbage. On what planet is this statement even close to being true? If we were to take a poll of the most hurtful things that have happened to us, I would bet vital parts of my anatomy that most of us would list pain we carry around from things others have said to us or about us. Broken bones heal. The bleeding stops. Physical hurt subsides. Sure, they may leave a scar, but those scars often go unnoticed. However, the pain we carry with us from the hurtful insults, thoughtless criticisms, rumors or gossip can last a lifetime. This pain can affect how we relate to others and how we feel about ourselves. James 3 affirms the powerful effect words can have on us.
While we understand this pain and rightly want to avoid it, do we ever stop to examine OUR words and the impact they have on others? We don’t want to be gossiped about, but do we give ourselves license to “share” a little about others? In our moments of frustration, do we still guard how we talk to our friends and family, aware that what we say and how we say it can impact them in ways we never would want to experience?
James not only warns against this, but goes so far as to point out the gross tendency followers of Christ have when we praise the Creator while criticizing His creation made in His image. There’s no way this works. If you tell me how wonderful you think I am but you hate my obnoxious kids, we are going to have some serious problems. I know the same would be true for you. Yet, we don’t have this same approach with God and His children. Blessing one while cursing the other is incompatible in the life of a follower of Jesus. We must be intentional about how we use our voice, speaking life and encouragement into others, not being critical or prone to gossip, so our praise of our Creator is not hindered.
God, I know the painful reality of how damaging unkind, critical words can be. Help me guard my words so that I honor You with everything I say, and others will be lifted up.
- Pastor Jeff