James 3:3-6: 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
I’ve been thinking about this morning’s sermon all day. We had a guest speaker, and the topic was freedom of speech in the context of the Bible. Based on the last few days and the last few arguments between my husband and me, God was speaking to us as we sat in church this morning.
The tongue is fire. It really is. The minister said that for some people, your words weigh 10,000 pounds. I think that most people forget how powerful words can be, especially angry words. I know I do. As I’ve written in my last few posts, I have a problem with anger and with biting words (A Breaking Point, Let’s Get Real). Essentially, the minister’s message was to ask, “Do your words reflect who you are in God’s eyes?” Am I using my words in the best way I can?
This sermon resonated with me not just because of how my husband and I had been arguing and how I’d been saying hateful words. It also resonated with me because, as the minister said, “You shape your words, but your words shape you.” I can be a very negative person. I can blame some of it on my clinical depression, but a lot of it is that I am just not a positive thinker. I tend to think the worst in a situation, and I also think the absolute worst about myself. In my eyes, I continually fail at so much. That sounds like self-pity, but I am being honest about these feelings. My brain is full of negativity, and that negativity spills out into my words as I put myself down and use angry words and think angry thoughts. The minister also said, “If you believe something, then you are likely to live in such a way that you are right.” This is true for me because I’ve come to believe that I’m not a good person.
So now, like so many other of my posts have alluded to, the real work begins. Now I need to remember the words of James, Chapter 1, Verses 19-21: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.