Nicole Burke returns to Hungry For More today with a post that sums up what we’ve been learning recently in James. She has something applicable for both mentors and moms today as she shares her take on James’ five illustrations.
As a mentor herself and with four children at home – she knows what she is talking about! I loved this – I know you will, too.
She pouts and says, ‘then I’m never going to…’ and ‘I already knew that’ and ‘then I just won’t be your friend anymore.’ And the harshness of the words hurts my ears. But I drive away from time with a friend and can number the words misspoken-the way I boasted or complained or gossiped or just talked too much.
I’m tempted to wash both our mouths out with a fresh bar of Irish Spring but we sing the verse (Seeds of Praise album-’The Mouth’) and I know it’s true….it’s our hearts that need the washing.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Matthew 12:34)
Since our mouth will only reveal what our hearts feel, here are 5 alternatives to washing your (or your children’s) mouth out with soap.
Go Ride a Horse. As our mouth goes, so goes our day. When I let my tongue run toward complaining and negative words, my day follows my words, running like a horse toward a giant mud pit.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. (James 3:3)
Take a Cruise on a Ship. Words seem like such a small thing, such a powerless part of these days, but these three and four and five letter sounds push and pull my life and determine the course of the big things.
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. (James 3:4)
Watch a Forest Burn. I think one little negative sentence or a hint of gossip can be just that. I think that I can speak a little word and its effects will just be, well, little. But these utterances fall like sparks on dry wood and before I know it, they are well beyond my control.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6)
Visit the Zoo. Right in the middle of a day where I’m sure I’m in control-the house is (kind of) clean, we’re all dressed and working and in the right place, my mouth opens and it’s clear that this tongue of mine has a different master.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. (James 3:7-8)
Take a Drink of the Sea. We read the Bible together and talk about God’s greatness and before the day is through, I’ve spoken at least one negative word about at least one of God’s creations.
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing….Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:9,10, and 12b)
If this mouth of mine is only amplifying my heart’s song, then the horse and the ship and fire all tell me that I need to be listening to a different tune. If I want a day that heads in the right direction, want to encourage others, want to speak words of life and blessing, then I need to turn my heart in the Christ’s direction, hear His encouragement and accept His life for my own. I don’t need a cleaner mouth to change the course of these days, I need a spotless heart-and there’s only One in all the world that can make it so.
Lord, use our words this day to reveal our hearts. When our lips turn toward trouble, flap out of control and set a fire blazing, turn us to you, clean our hearts, and fill us with you until we find our mouths finally overflowing with praise.
Wow – this has been quite a week, huh? Have you listened more and spoken less? I sure have.
I’m glad to give Charles Westbrook another opportunity to guest blog today. You may remember that he has just published the second in a devotional series: Fresh Daily II.
If you missed his first post with us, you’ll want to check that out here. Charles will kinda wrap up the imagery that we’ve been dealing with regarding our tongue.
In the meantime, I think I’ll just sit back and keep my mouth shut….
“And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies; it pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)
James apparently had some experience with the tongue.
He uses several interesting metaphors to describe its power.
He reminds us that out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing, which ought not to be.
Make no mistake about it – the tongue, or speech, is a powerful force. Nations have been set on collision courses by it. Napoleon was a powerful orator who whipped the French nation and army into a nationalistic frenzy that stood Europe on its head. Adolph Hitler was an even more powerful orator who used his communication abilities to ignite a world war. This tiny part of the human body has done enormous damage in human history.
But the tongue is only the tool. Like everything, its value is in its use and in who uses it. A bit can control a horse to get someone to a place of ministry. A rudder can control a ship to bring food and needed supplies. A fire can either destroy a forest or cook a meal. It all depends on purpose, intent, use, and control.
To use the tongue in the ways that God intended, we must keep constant vigil on the heart and the mind, which are the “hands” behind the use of the tongue. These must be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit who alone has the ability to reckon with this powerful force. Discipline of the tongue, empowered by the Holy Spirit is how we can use it for good, to bless rather than curse.
Lord, May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, and may they be used as a force for good in our world. Amen.