The Everyday Girl Guide to: James and My Life (James 3:3-12)

July 10, 2013

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:3-12

I’ve heard this verse used a lot against losing your temper.  (I’ve had it used on me about temper, for that matter).  I don’t think that’s all it’s about. It’s also frequently used about gossip (easier to see).  With the internet (Facebook, Twitter) and the gossip mags at the grocery store, it’s hard to not get more than my share of gossip.  Whether I want to know it or not, I’m aware of what Kim and Kanye named their baby (North West, seriously?), that Jen still hasn’t made it to the altar with Justin, and Paula Deen isn’t exactly the most popular person right now.

Gossip goes further than that, though.  We pass around information freely in the latter part of the Information Age.  Most of this information is just gossip.

I think this verse can also be used for those who like to “stir the pot”.  I’ve been in chat rooms (yes, I’m still a geek) where “Christians” came in and used the Bible to bash other Christians over the head.  Their words were “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” and definitely set the entire chat room on fire.

It’s not possible to say something mean and something loving at the same time.  Yet I find more and more that the same mouth that praises God on the weekends says some pretty unloving things during the week (and I’m pointing the finger at myself here).  As the verse says, “this should not be”.  Slowly, the “salty” things I say will corrupt the pure things unless I get all of it purified.

The best bet, of course, is just to say less (or say nothing).  However, if I must speak, as Ecclesiastes 5:2 says: 

Do not be quick with your mouth,
    do not be hasty in your heart
    to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
    and you are on earth,
    so let your words be few.

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