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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Saturday, February 6, 2016
Today’s scripture reading:
What you say and what you don’t say are both important. To use proper speech you must not only say the right words at the right time but also not say what you shouldn’t. Examples of an untamed tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, and lying. Before you speak, ask, “Is what I want to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”
James compares the damage the tongue can do to a raging fire—the tongue’s wickedness has its source in hell itself. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage. Satan uses the tongue to divide people and pit them against one another. Idle and hateful words are damaging because they spread destruction quickly, and no one can stop the results once they are spoken. We dare not be careless with what we say, thinking we can apologize later. Because even if we do, the scars remain. A few words spoken in anger can destroy a relationship that took years to build. Before you speak, remember that words are like fire—you can neither control nor reverse the damage they can do.
If no human being can control the tongue, why bother trying? Even though we may not achieve perfect control of our tongues, the Holy Spirit will help us learn self-control. Remember that we are not fighting the tongue’s fire in our own strength. The Holy Spirit will give us increasing power to monitor and control what we say, so that when we are offended, the Spirit will remind us of God’s love, and we won’t react in a hateful manner. When we are criticized, the Spirit will heal the hurt and help us to not lash out.
Our contradictory speech often puzzles us. At times our words are right and pleasing to God, but at other times they are violent and destructive. Which of these speech patterns reflects our true identity? We were made in God’s image, but the tongue gives us a picture of our basic sinful nature. God works to change us from the inside out. When the Holy Spirit purifies a heart, he gives self-control so that the person will speak words that please God. (NLT)
James 3:1-12 – Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged by God with great strictness.
We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way. We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong. So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Can you pick olives from a fig tree or figs from a grapevine? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty pool.
No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. – James 3:8 (NIV)
Karen Jean Dorsey (Oregon) titled her story “RAGE OR BLESSING?” Here is a portion of Karen’s story:
“The words tumbled out of my mouth as I confronted my co-worker. Months of spent-up frustration spilled over, becoming a raging river of anger. This man had criticized my work decisions, spoken rudely, and ignored me in front of others. I thought I had forgiven him, but I guess I had stuffed the emotions inside. As I was confronting him, my outburst offended him. Although I later asked for forgiveness, he would not speak to me.
“Sometimes our tempers get the best of us. We may even use the verse above to excuse our venting. Although we are helpless to tame our tongues, God is not. Paul cautions, ‘In your anger do not sin’ (Eph. 4:26), which tells us that there are ways for us to handle anger without hurting other people.
“I began to think about what I could have done differently. . . . Or I could have simply started asking God to bless him, which might have changed my perspective on the situation. We each have the choice of how we will respond to offenses. Will we rage, or will we bless?”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – Today I will let God guide my words.
Prayer: Dear God, help us each day to put our tongues under your control and to heed your voice. Amen.
To read the rest of the story in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
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