9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?
12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. - James 3:9-12
Our tongues represent how double minded we are - we speak praise of our God in Heaven in one moment, and we speak ill of men in the next. We tell others of God’s faithfulness in one breath, and we gossip or slander others in the next. God created us to glorify Him with our mouths and our lives, yet we separate ourselves from Him when we tear one another down. Our very purpose in life is to share the Gospel and build His kingdom, we should be sharing His steadfast, pursuing, foundational love with others as representatives of His kingdom, yet we can often be caught speaking words of discontent, disrespect, disinterest, or even worse - hatred, jealousy, and anger. Our words bring dissension and division when they should be bringing unity and peace.
James is desperate in his desire to bring to light the hypocrisy of our tongues in this passage. He reminds us this is not how God created us. Every person is called to be a blessing in their speech toward others. Just as a spring can only put forth one kind of water, or fruit trees can only produce one kind of fruit, we were created to only speak words of life.
As we examine our lives, we should be looking for examples of where our speech is not life giving, times where we gossip or slander others, times where we lose our temper and shout words of anger, times we were hurt and cry words of division. We need to remember that we do not have the power to overcome our tongue on our own. It is only through His Spirit moving in us that we can change. If we ever hope to break the cycle of hurtful speech, we need to seek forgiveness for those words by confessing and repenting our hateful words, both vertically and horizontally. Confession and repentance frees the Spirit of the grief that quiets its voice when we need it most. Then spending time in the Word daily raises the volume on the Spirit so that we might hear it in those difficult moments. We need to hear the Spirit to be able to speak words of life in moments the world wants us to speak hate.
My greatest challenge is keeping my speech honorable when speaking with the difficult people in my life. We all have those people who push our buttons, people who make it especially difficult to speak words of life. They may be family members we are in relation with, co-workers or neighbors, but they are people we are in regular contact with through a forced relationship. These people are often caught in a trap of bitterness and resentment they don’t even see or understand, and their countenance is just miserable. When these people launch their words of attack, I struggle to respond in a way that glorifies God - in fact, even when I try to honor God with my response, it seems to only ignite the situation even further. How do we keep our speech honorable in these situations?
I have found humbling myself in these moments allows the Spirit to move. I try to recognize the bitterness and the resentment in this person does not belong with me, even though it may be launched at me. It resides in their heart, and is often a blind spot they cannot see. I try to view them as a lost or broken soul that Jesus is desperately pursuing, and recognize that He has brought me into their lives and a way to shower this person with His love so that they may eventually break free from the chains that bind them. Sometimes that means I can speak words of life into the moment, and sometimes it means I say nothing at all in response. It’s remarkable how silence can allow the Spirit to move in their hearts when I hold my response. Mind you, this is not the silent treatment kind of silence, this is silence as a choice to not engage with the negativity, but rather to lift the person in prayer.
Our words should only bring life to those we are doing life with - praying He fills my Spirit so that I can do this work.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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