September 15, 2009

The Way We Talk Tells Who We Are

James 3:1-12

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings …
James 3:9


It’s sad but true. Some Christians do exactly what James says: they praise their Lord and Father in church on Sunday, and then the next day, at home or on the job or on the road, they curse people. Something goes wrong, and in an unguarded moment they let loose. Someone in a hurry cuts in front of them on the highway, or someone makes a mistake, and some Christians use language that dishonors the Lord.

James says it should not be that way.

James notes that a spring does not yield both fresh and salty water, and a fig tree cannot bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs. Similarly it is not fitting for a person who is connected with Christ through faith to use his or her tongue to curse others.

The way we talk tells who we are. If we have truly praised God in worship, we may not possibly use our tongues to curse others.

We have to learn to control our tongues—not by our willpower or in our own strength. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we get ready to begin each new day, we should ask the Holy Spirit to guard our tongues. Each one of us should learn to pray the prayer of Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Father in heaven, help us to use the gift of speech to praise your name. Holy Spirit, empower us to use our tongues only in praise and honor of you. In Jesus name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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