Lindsey Coates is the 33rd Street Ministry Coordinator at Summit Church.

The third chapter of James is a difficult one for me to read and absorb. Anyone who knows me knows that I struggle with taming my own tongue. I tend to say what I think, express what I believe, and do so with the volume turned up to 11 and with little regard for consequences. These are less-than-admirable qualities for someone who speaks in front of others on a weekly basis, specifically in jail where every movement is watched and every word heard on a continuous security feed.

A few years ago, I was sitting in a seminary class called “Radical Grace” and it only took about 10 minutes of me participating for the professor to look me in the eye and say, “Young lady, I believe you have issues with authority.” I laughed at first, but walked out of that classroom that day with my head lowered in shame.

I used to believe that something was wrong with me, that my failure to be a demure and quiet woman was a reflection of my own shortcomings. I thought I needed to be someone else in order to be loved by others as well as God. This belief is a lie. I am learning with each passing day that God not only loves me, but wants to use me as I am. He will continue to refine me into someone who can use this voice to bring peace rather than conflict. Each of us has a different role in living out God’s kingdom here on earth. Maybe I was not created to be a peacekeeper, but someone who uses her voice to point out injustice so the peacekeepers know where to go. Like the fig tree that will never bear olives, I need to discover who God created me to be rather than attempting to fit into someone else’s mold.

Taming the tongue does not mean silencing my voice.

Taming the tongue does not mean silencing my voice. God calls me to use the voice he has given me, and to be aware of what I say and how I say it, so that my words and thoughts point to him and his love for his children. My tongue is capable of igniting peace as well as violence, and can be used for powerful good or powerful evil. James 3:17-18 is a beautiful reminder that God gave me a voice to be used for his glory and to ignite the refining fires of shalom in the time and place he has called me to be right now.

I am in the midst of a lifelong process of becoming the woman God created me to be. He gives wisdom and discernment for me to learn from my past mistakes so that I may boast of great things in his name, and continue to point others to him.


How did James 3 impact you today?

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