June 29. James 3
I initially chose James 3 because of its poetic analogies, comparing the tongue to a spark that ignites a forest fire, a rudder that guides a huge ship, and a small bit that controls a strong horse. But there’s so much more in this chapter. It starts with a sober warning to teachers. As I am a teacher of sorts, I sit up and take notice when I read James 3:1!! We who share our words with others have a great responsibility to try to get the words right. Immediately after this warning, we are reminded just how HARD it is to always get the words right. May I put in a little plug for grace being given to speakers? It’s hard when you use lots of words to always say the right ones. If your pastor misspeaks or a Bible teacher jars you with a comment, make sure you ask yourself whether that one comment is part of a pattern or an exception. Let’s extend grace to those who by the sheer volume of words they speak are likely to occasionally say things imperfectly! Please? And do pray for teachers of the Word, that the Holy Spirit would guide them, and that God would even filter those words so that what penetrates is what God knows will help the hearer. That’s what I often pray for myself and others. That God would take imperfect words from an imperfect human and use them perfectly for His great good. He is able!
Even though teachers are judged more strictly, none of us are off the hook, are we? James warns us to watch our mouths. We are to speak what is edifying and good and kind and helpful. Paul, in Ephesians 4:29 says this to all of us: Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. This is a vcry helpful verse to memorize! So … let’s guard our tongues carefully, repenting swiftly when we sin and trying once more to say what is good and encouraging to others.
The last few verses of James deal with a new topic: godly wisdom and they read like poetry! Oh linger long on these verses, friend! Ponder and meditate. Notice how godly wisdom has nothing to do with academics or power. At All. It’s sooo different from what the world would say, isn’t it? I love this chapter. How ‘bout you?
My verse: James 3:13 “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.”
My response: This almost feels like a conclusion after reading the warnings about the tongue! Once we realize that we struggle with always saying kind and uplifting words … we can’t help but be humbled. And that is wisdom—to know our own weakness and fallibility. Lord, forgive me when I say things that hurt others made in Your image! Help me to live honorably, serving others and fully aware that I am a weak vessel in need of Your help to live and speak wisely!