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Taming the tongue

I was awful at science in school. Besides biology, I detested it. However, I did appreciate it back in elementary school, when science was “cool” because we made clay volcanos that erupted when baking soda and vinegar were mixed together.

When it came to “science,” I found that I was most-amused by liquids that couldn’t mix together. Whether it was lava lamps, salad dressing bottles that contained oil as a main ingredient, or those Foohy pencil sharpeners that every kid begged their parents for, I was intrigued by how these liquids wouldn’t mix together or dissolve.

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At this stage in life, salad dressing doesn’t leave me pondering science’s complexity, but there are some things in nature that leave me absolutely awestruck. One of the most amazing things to me are the division lines that are created when salt water and fresh water meet. I highly recommend you take a moment to Google what this looks like, or watch a YouTube video. Although these waters technically mix to some extent, it appears that the two bodies of water are completely separate from one another. You can’t help but marvel at how magnificent of a creator God is when you see it.

Recently, I came across a passage in the Bible that reminded me of this imagery.ย You may be familiar with the passage “Taming the Tongue” from the book of James. The analogies of horses, ships, and fires were ones that I was familiar with growing up, but it was a few verses after these analogies that struck me.

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

James 3:9-12

If this verse didn’t make me feel like I just ran into a brick wall at full-speed, I don’t know what could. I couldn’t help but ponder the depth and painful truth of James’ words when I initially read this passage.

How often have we spent time reading the Bible, worshipping in church, or praying in a small group, and then shortly afterwards said harsh, hurtful things out of anger? How often have we allowed our jealousy and pride to control the words we say to, and about, others?

When we have a relationship with Christ, our desire should be to become more like Him. Granted, we will never achieve perfection on earth, but we should strive to honor Him in the way we conduct ourselves and how we treat others — and one of these areas regards the way that we speak. Our words should honor God in the way that we speak to others, the choice of words we use, and the way we speak about each other.

I ask you, and myself, the following: if we were to take a script of everything that we said throughout the day and read through it, would we reflect Christ with the way that we speak?

For some of us, this may not be an area of struggle. For others, this may be a constant challenge. Regardless of where we stand in this area, what should we base our words upon as Christians?

Wholesome things that encourage others. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Truth. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue only lasts a moment.” Proverbs 13:18-19

Our thoughts, which have a direct impact on our words. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Some of us might need to adjust the way that we speak to others. Others of us may need to change how we speak about others we know. We might even need to correct the words in our vocabulary. No matter the changes we may need to make to our speech, we can have peace in knowing that God will be with us through the reformation process.ย 

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the doors of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

This week, I pray that we will be more aware of the impact that our words have. Not only do our words have the power to build up or tear down those closest to us, but they also have the potential to share the love of Christ with all we encounter.

 

 

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