“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.”
James 3: 2
“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12: 37
James 3: 1-8
Dear Reader, your mission should you decide to accept it, is to tame your tongue. This message will not self-destruct but will be a stern reminder of the difficulty of the mission. You can select a Team (as in the Mission Impossible series), some have already been chosen for you. God in His love and mercy has provided us a powerful counselor in the Holy Spirit and an eternal Saviour in the Lord Jesus. The Church is called to make up the rest of your Team.
As we begin our Mission James highlights a harsh reality, those who teach will be held doubly accountable, they should practice what they preach. I found this standard was applied to me as a Police Officer and now as a Priest but I would argue that this principle applies to all believers. The world looks at the Church and her representatives in this way. How often do you see the Church judged in media outlets, how often has someone quickly picked up on an error you have made and called you out because you are a Christian? If we never err in our speech, we will be able to exert almost perfect self-control (vs. 2). The word James uses here is the same where he described how perseverance completes a work in us (1: 4). In effect he is saying we would have real and near perfect maturity if we could control our tongue.
If we are beginning to feel encouraged, we are quickly put in our place. The tongue is described as powerful and destructive (vs. 3-5). It corrupts from within and can cause untold damage to people and situations. It is incendiary, restless and full of poison (vs. 6-8). Many creatures can be tamed but no human being can tame the tongue…Mission Impossible.
Why is James being so negative? Simply because we as human beings cannot tame our tongues; they are the outflow of our hearts. So, we go back to the principle of perseverance (1: 4) and the truth that only the Lord can give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36: 26). We then need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling so that we begin to act in the way God wants and wills us to (Philippians 2: 12-13). This is our act of worship on a daily basis. Overcoming sin, death and being reconciled to God is Mission Impossible for us yet look at what God has done for us in Jesus Christ!
To Ponder: Consider all your words from yesterday. How did you build others up, how did you pull them down? It is painful to look at ourselves in this way but it is the first step to confession, forgiveness and putting matters right with others. What steps do you need to take now?
Pray: Dear Lord, in your grace forgive us for words that have hurt, been unwholesome and not reflected your love. By the power of your Holy Spirit help us to imitate our Saviour so that our words benefit and build others up. Encourage us to persevere so that your work in us will bring you glory. Amen
Praise: Here I am to Worship sung by Chris Tomlin
The Servant Song
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.