Hunkered Down Devotion

James 3:2-12 (Voice)
2 We all stumble along the way. If a person never speaks hurtful words or shouts in anger or profanity, then he has achieved perfection. The one who can control his tongue can also control the rest of his body. 3 It’s like when we place a metal bit into a horse’s mouth to ride it; we can control its entire body with the slightest movement of our hands. 4 Have you ever seen a massive ship sailing effortlessly across the water? Despite its immense size and the fact that it is propelled by mighty winds, a small rudder directs the ship in any direction the pilot chooses. 5 It’s just the same with our tongues! It’s a small muscle, capable of marvelous undertakings.
And do you know how many forest fires begin with a single ember from a small campfire? 6 The tongue is a blazing fire seeking to ignite an entire world of vices. The tongue is unique among all parts of the body because it is capable of corrupting the whole body. If that were not enough, it ignites and consumes the course of creation with a fuel that originates in hell itself. 7 Humanity is capable of taming every bird and beast in existence, even reptiles and sea creatures great and small. 8 But no man has ever demonstrated the ability to tame his own tongue! It is a spring of restless evil, brimming with toxic poisons. 9 Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image. 10 One mouth streams forth both blessings and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be. 11 Does a spring gush crystal clear freshwater and moments later spurt out bitter salt water? 12 My brothers and sisters, does a fig tree produce olives? Is there a grapevine capable of growing figs? Can saltwater give way to freshwater?

These words from the book of James should serve as a warning to all of us.  They imply that no one has ever tamed their own tongue and that we are not likely to be the first to figure out that trick.  Perhaps that is the truth.  The deeper reality that is revealed here is the raw power of contained in these small instruments housed in our mouths.  

James compares our tongues to a ship’s rudder, steering a massive vessel with just a relatively small piece of equipment in the water or the single ember of flame from which the entire fire begins to burn.  James highlights as well that this power can be used for the positive as well as for the negative, as the saying goes: with great power comes great responsibility.  

What this means, is contrary to what we often say or think, the things we say aren’t ‘just words’, they matter.  They have consequences.  What we say matters.  If our words lead us down a path towards ugliness, divisiveness then that is where your heart will be as well.  If your tongue spits out words that cut others down instead of building people up, that is where your heart will be as well – it won’t have a choice, your tongue will have guided it there.

The solution isn’t to will or wish our tongue’s into submission, but rather to give them up the power of the Holy Spirit.  To ask for the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit to come along side of you, to guard your tongue and even hold it when necessary so that we might be the ambassadors of light and love of for God’s Kingdom that we were created and called to be.                      
Sharing God’s Love,

Prayer:  Lord, help us to tame our tongues and to use them to praise your name, Amen.

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