Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Maturity and the Tongue

Funny but Sad: On a hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone. The faint etching reads: "Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, who, on the twenty-fourth of may, began to hold her tongue." --William Norris
Quote: “The things I say and do today In memory’s book, I’ll keep, And when I’m old and read them – Will I laugh or will I weep?” --Source Unknown

"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 NIV).
In chapter 3 of James, we are told the tongue is a small piece of flesh that is like: (1) the bit in the horse's mouth - it controls the whole animal, (2) the small rudder - that controls the huge ship, (3) a small spark - that destroys the whole forest, and (4) a small organ - which can corrupt the whole body.
Someone has said, "Gossip is mouth-to-mouth recitation." There are those who seem to get a sort of perverse pleasure when something unfortunate happens to someone, especially someone they don't particularly care for, and they just can't wait to tell someone else about it. Sadly, many of us wouldn't have much to say, if all we could say was positive and helpful. Slander, unjust criticism, gossip, or hateful remarks can do irreparable damage. Once an unkind word has left your lips, it can never be retrieved or undone no matter how repentant you may be. The damage to the other person will have already been done. We need to be careful about what we say and how we say it.
Both Paul and James are wonderful teachers about the practical applications for becoming mature in our faith. It is their contention is that if we have genuine faith, that faith will be reflected in the way we live -- the way we relate to other people. James gives much attention to the harmful effects of an unruly tongue and hurtful speech. He says, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26 NIV). No matter how spiritually mature we may think we are, everyone of us could learn to better control our speech. Our Christianity will be worthless as a witness to others if we are letting our speech discredit the Lord we claim to serve.
If you have trouble controlling your words when you are angry or upset at another person, please remember, as a Christian, you should not fight this battle alone. The Holy Spirit stands ready to help us learn self-control – a gift of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). We are not fighting the battle of the tongue's fire in our own strength. The Holy Spirit will teach us to control what we say. Even when we are offended, He will remind us of God's love, and help us not to react in a hateful way. When we are criticized, the Spirit will heal the hurt and help us not to lash out with angry words. Jesus said: ". . . the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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