Like many of you, I took the James challenge this summer and read through the book of James over the course of a week. This is not the first time I’ve spent time in James. Unlike my friend and pastor, Zach Van Dyke, I really enjoy this book of the bible! It’s practical and I am a taskmaster, so I can easily relate and understand what needs to be put into action. But mostly, I love that in different seasons of my life God speaks to me through this book in different ways.
I have a five-and-a-half-year-old, Benjamin, and an almost-three-year-old (read: almost-three-going on-thirteen), Molly. This past week as I read chapter 3 and the passage on taming the tongue, I was struck by how applicable these verses are in my life right now. I saw not only how much my words can affect my sweet children, but also how they show and teach Benjamin and Molly about Jesus’ love for them.
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. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. —James 3:5-10
Y’all, read that again. Our words are powerful!
In verses 7-8 it says that without God my tongue is restless evil, full of deadly poison. And before that it says that mankind can not tame it like we tame all kinds of animals. Friends, we need Jesus daily—often times hourly—to guide our thoughts and tame our tongues.
Verse 9 talks about how we use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but also to curse those that God created and loves.
Here are some real life things that happened over the past week while I was reading James, and a few ways God showed me that words, and specifically our words, matter.
My kids take turns nightly praying before dinner, and—even though they pretty much fight about whose turn it is—I love that they enjoy using their words to pray and thank God for our meal.
But it’s with that same tongue that my sweet daughter has started saying “Stop whining, Ben” or “Ben, don’t be so whiny” anytime Benjamin has a remotely sad or disappointed tone in his voice. I can neither confirm nor deny who she probably picked that up from.
Every night during our bedtime routine we read from the children’s Bible. After we have finished, we say together “This is the Bible, it’s God’s word, and everything in it in true.” Even though right now these are words Ben and Molly simply have memorized, my hope and prayer is that they will remember these powerful words when they go through hard and challenging seasons in their lives. And that they will go to and rely on God’s word for guidance, wisdom, and peace.
Through this James challenge (and really as I have been writing this blog) I have learned that our words matter. Yes, we have the power to praise or curse, but what’s most important to remember is that God’s word is greatest of them all. Spending time in Scripture daily is so important, and as we do God will transform us and our words.