June 19, 2012

Fighting Words

James 3:3-12

The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
—Proverbs 18:7


Here is a prayer I need to say more often: “Lord, make my words sweet and tender, because I may have to eat them.”

How many times has my mouth gotten me into trouble with others?!

James agrees, calling our tongues “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” A biting criticism, a careless remark, a sarcastic comment will separate you from your friends and wound the people around you. Inflammatory words will damage relationships.

God is the great communicator. The Bible is the record of his speaking at many times and in various ways, finally and supremely through his Son. And we are made in his image to communicate with him and with the other people he has made in his likeness. He speaks to us in holiness and love and blessing.

We like to respond to God with words of praise and thankfulness. But we too often speak to others with cursing, slander, and rage. Their reaction to our words usually is returned in the same angry way. Then fighting breaks out.

“No human being can tame the tongue,” James writes. No person can, but God is able!

Let’s submit our tongues to our Redeemer, who can teach us how to transform our foolish words into blessings like his. Then peace will flourish.

O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight. (See Psalm 19:14.) Amen.

About the author — David Zandstra

David Zandstra is a retired pastor living in Marietta, Georgia, having served five churches from New Jersey to California. Along with other ministries, he counsels clients of a pregnancy resource center. He acknowledges his indebtedness to the training and resources of Peacemaker Ministries. David and his wife, Margie, have three children and six grandchildren.

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