When I feel I've hurt someone,
When I feel my pride is overtaking my being,
When something happens that just doesn't sit right inside me...
I often turn to the book of James.
Tonight...was one of those times.
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man and able also to bride the whole body.
Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
For every kind of beats, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after he similitude [likeness] of God.
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Doth a fountain send water forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
Who is a wise man and endued [has understanding] with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
First of all, just take a deep breath. That's some intense stuff.
Let's start at the beginning.
Verse two gets me every time. It is honestly the biggest...thump on the forehead that I have ever..just wow. NOT one of us is perfect! We have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. Not only does James say that...he basically says that if you can control your tongue--yeah that little muscle in your mouth--then you're perfect. We're all going to have problems controlling what we say.
Verses three and four are incredible to me. Think about how many different things are controlled/directed by something small--cars by the steering wheel, boats by the captain at the wheel/the rudder, big machines [bulldozers, etc] by gears, airplanes by little flaps on the wings and tail!! All of those are types of how our tongue controls our bodies--what will 'happen next' so to speak. The example about the horse really got me -- the bit in their mouth controls their WHOLE BODY!!
On to verses five and six:: our tongue sure does boast great things! It only takes a little cigarette butt to light the whole of California's forests on fire! It takes our little tongue going just a little too far to mess everything up. When you think of lying, what do you think of?--it's something you do with your mouth!! It defiles the whole body. It's like a chain reaction; one member of a team...there's no "i" in "team," but if one person begins to think they're the best, the rest of the team suffers as well!
People can tame lions, tigers, bears [oh my!] but none of them can tame the tongue! It's easier to get the wild out of a lion or tiger than it is to have full control over the tongue.
This next part hit really close to home and kind of took me back to Matthew where it talks about sinning in your thoughts is just as bad as acting on those thoughts.
Verse nine amazes me...You know, we do look down on people and say stuff about them [say--tongue again]. We curse them, and yet they are also, like us, made in the image of God. They are no more perfect or less perfect than we are. While we may feel like we have a closer walk with the Lord than they do, it gives us no right to judge them or put them down.
Just think...we bless and we curse with the same two lips. That's like using your toothbrush to scrub the floor or, better yet, the toilet!, and then brushing your teeth. Seem outlandish? Well, that's about how it is when you bless/curse from the same two lips, with the same tongue no less!
Verse thirteen sort of starts a different subject. James begins talking about wisdom through faith. He says if you're feeling prideful, don't boast about it. Don't be like the Pharisees and pray in public just to be seen doing it...don't do good works with the intentions of getting other people to see them. That's not Christian at all.
Envying and strife and pride...they only cause confusion and chaos!! There's nothing in them of Jesus.
Wisdom from God is pure, brings peace, is gentle, willing to intercede, merciful, not partial, not hypocritical.
Goodness gracious!!! All of that led me to Ephesians 4, the end of the chapter, where it's talking about not letting corrupt things come out of your mouth...that we should be free of envy, anger, malice, spite, and all of those things..FORGIVING one another because God forgave us. Which goes back to Matthew 18 where Peter [gosh, bringin' up Peter again!] is asking God how many times he should forgive people who sin against him. God says, Peter I haven't told you to forgive 'em seven times. I say seventy TIMES seven [which, for all of you who watch veggie tales know, is four hundred and ninety :P].
We get all prideful and boast about being better than other people when they do wrong or hurt us or something when all we should be doing is forgiving them and letting God do work in them to correct them. it's not our place to judge them!!
Gosh, I know lately my tongue has really gotten the best of me in more ways than one. I think that's why I keep coming back to James. It really is a proverbial slap in the face. I have so much to work on with myself...with controlling MY tongue. Every time I read James 3 it makes me want to just...shut up.
So I think I will for a while. :)