Wednesday, August 20, 2014
“Purer in Speech”
You’re listening to The New You, the daily broadcast for people who have been made new by the blood of Christ. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s Scripture:
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8).
In James 3, the Holy Spirit offers us six pictures of the tongue. James relates the tongue to a bit, a rudder, a fire, a poisonous animal, a fountain, and a fig tree. From these six images, we derive three important points about the tongue, and we see that improper use of our tongues renders us impure and jeopardizes our salvation.
First, notice the tongue’s power to DIRECT. James references the bit that is put in a horses mouth. That bit brings the power of that horse under man’s control. James also mentions the rudder that steers large ships that are driven by fierce winds. It is that “very small rudder” that turns the ship “wherever the pilot desires” (James 3:4). Both the bit and the rudder must overcome contrary forces. Both of these must be under the control of a strong hand, and both of these items have the power to direct, which means that they affect other people. Just as these small members – the bit in the horse’s mouth and the rudder on the ship – bring great strength and power under control, so the tongue has the ability to direct destiny, even though it is a small member of the body.
It’s interesting that James connects sins of speech with sins of the whole body. “For we all stumble in many things,” James says. “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). One who has the ability to harness the power of his or her words likely has the strength to keep his or her entire body pure.
Second, notice the tongue’s power to DESTROY. James says that the tongue “is a fire, a world of iniquity” (James 3:6). It is a destructive force. All of us have been on the receiving end of someone’s destructive words. Perhaps you, like me, have been the one who has even uttered destructive words. It doesn’t take long in life for us to realize just how powerful our words can be … especially to people that we see often like family and close friends.
Further, James says that the tongue is “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). While the fire is an open force, the poison is a subtle force. Think about sins of speech like gossip, slander, and backbiting. These are poisons, and may they be far from God’s people!
Third, notice the tongue’s power to DELIGHT. James notes that we can use our tongues to bless our God (James 3:9). This is the highest occupation our lips could ever enjoy. However, don’t miss the warning that James gives in this context: “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9-10). Don’t be guilty of this sin. Don’t be hypocritical in your speech! Be sure that you are consistent in what you teach and in what you practice in your everyday conversation. Be sure that you are pure in heart, body, and speech.
Let’s wrap it up: Ephesians 4:29 says “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” There are two sides of this verse. First, the negative: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth.” That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? He doesn’t have to list every cuss word in the book or every sin of speech of us to understand the command. Keep your speech pure. Then, Paul gives the positive side: “… but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Let your speech be filled with grace. That will brighten everyone’s day and lead to further down the pathway of purity.
Memory Verse: Once again, Psalm 19:14 is a perfect verse for us to memorize and recall when temptation to be impure creeps in.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
Sometime today: Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 and answer two questions. First, what was going on in the Corinthian church? Second, what was the church supposed to do about it? More on that tomorrow as we discuss keeping the church pure.
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This is The New You, I’m Robert Hatfield, and I hope you have a great day!