August 26 - Watch Your Mouth!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August 26 - James 3:1-12 - Watch Your Mouth!

There are certain favorite passages that are not favorites because they are so beautiful, but were chosen because they are so important in my life. This is one of those. I actually don't love this passage at all, but it is necessary to reread often for my wellbeing.

It doesn't start well for me: "Not many of you should presume to be teachers ... because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)

One of the things I learned growing up with my father was that certain behaviors were expected of us because we were his children. As a pastor, people watched his family closely. If he couldn't raise his children well, how could he expect to teach them how to raise their own? Dad took his responsibility to his congregation very seriously. If he called on them to refrain from drinking to excess, then he wasn't going to drink. He knew that asking his congregation to live holy lives if he was out carousing and flirting with women, smoking and partying was hypocritical. He also knew that the expectations were higher for him than for anyone else in that congregation. He made a choice to be their pastor and he did his best to live up to the standards he set for himself.

Now, while James acknowledges that every part of the person should be kept in check, he specifically points to the tongue as the rudder that steers the sheep or the bit in the mouth of a horse. (James 3:3-5)

He finds that the tongues is the source of most evil in each person. And speaking for myself, I find it hard to disagree with him. What comes out of my mouth sometimes appalls even me. I can't believe it when I find myself gossiping and speaking badly about a person simply because I disagree with them or because they seem to have done something foolish. Who in the world do I think that I am to sit in judgment of anyone else?

In James 3:8, he says that no man can tame the tongue - it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise God and curse men who are made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. (James 3:9-10)

Just like a freshwater spring that is unable to produce salt water, our mouths should be brought under control so that only praise flows from our tongues.

This is one of those things that I will always be working to bring under control. How about you? Have you got it figured out yet?