Bread – Tongue Talk

September 2, 2009

Readings for Wednesday, September 2
    from the Book of Common Prayer:
    1 Kings 9:24-10:13; James 3:1-12; Mark 15:1-11
    Psalms 38, 119:25-48

The reading from James today is about the tongue.  This is one of the passages that makes us realize that we all fall short.  As James says, "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man…"  James 3:2b.  If you fall into this category, you are to be congratulated because you may be the only one of this generation who is perfect.

Now, for the rest of us James has a lot to say about the tongue.  First, he says that our whole life is governed by what comes out of mouth, likening the tongue to a rudder on a boat.  James 3:4.  Second, he says that it makes great "boasts" James 3:5a  Third, he says that what comes out of a mouth through the tongue can start large fires, fires which damage and destroy.  James 3:5b,6.  Fourth, he says the tongue is evil.  James 3:6, 8b.  Fifth, he says the tongue "corrupts the whole person." James 3:6b.  Sixth, he says that no man can tame the tongue.  James 3:8a.

Following his description of the tongue, James asks a question – can bad fruit come from a good tree?  James 3:12.  Asked another way, can a tongue which springs forth evil, mischief, gossip, rumors, etcetera be the product of a Christian?

We know the answer to this last question, "yes and no."  The "yes" part comes from our carnal life, which is at war with our new life in Jesus Christ and which sometimes spills over into poor language and poor behavior, language and behavior which brings discredit to our God instead of the glory He deserves.  The "no" part comes from our knowledge that James is right, if we could only take on the new life totally and shed the old carnal life totally, then totally good things would come from our mouths.

James has given us a test by which we can judge ourselves about our journey of sanctification, whether we are progressing toward Jesus Christ or retreating away.  Once you are born, you have to grow.  James gives us a good test by which we can judge whether we are growing.

Hidden within the Bible are little phrases which are easily ignored until the Holy Spirit brings them forth.  One such phrase for me today is "no man."  "…no man can tame the tongue." James 3:8.  I always felt badly when I read that, because I knew no matter how much I did I would never be able to keep from saying things which sometimes hurt other people, started fires, and corrupted both me and the listener.  But today I realized that "no man" excludes God.  God is able to tame the tongue and so my job is to strengthen my relationship with God and my understanding of His Word and let Him so transform my life that what comes from my tongue brings blessing, honor, good teaching, love, and peace.

Are you struggling with a tongue which does not evidence your position as a Christian?  Improvement is waiting around the corner.  Just pray "come Holy Spirit" and then listen to what He has to say.

Lord, help us to tame our tongue and to wisely answer the question, "Will you really lay down your life for Me?"  Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture, and to solely rely upon them as our source of information about how we should live.  Help us Lord to come to You, and once having come to You to become closer to You and to preach the Gospel to all people in all circumstances, in and out of season, as You have commanded.  Help us know that You are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be willing and obedient servants.  It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank You and praise You!  Amen.


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