|Today’s reading: James 3:9-12|
Sticks and stones
Today’s brief reading, which is only four verses from James, covers one topic – our speech. Yet I find there are three challenging points within it. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
The first point made by James is that the mouth has dual usage. It can be used to proclaim our praise to the King and almost in the same breath it is capable of profanity! There is a wider issue here too, our whole mind, spirit and body can serve God; but then we might crawl off and neglect him. We might foolishly believe he cannot see our iniquity. I guess on a Monday morning we are in danger that we may lose the Sunday righteousness we experienced and just revert to our secular routine. We need to bring God with us.
The next point I note is that James seems to be addressing the issue of people ‘bad mouthing’ those in the fellowship. His point is that we are all made in the image of God. In fact, when we see our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, we see people who are equally found precious in God’s sight, in fact Jesus died for them too. I was always touched by my parent’s efforts to show no favouritism for me or my brothers. So much more will our loving shepherd show his love for each one of his flock.
The final point is that gushing spring or the bountiful fruit indicates what is inside. Jesus recognised the false righteousness of the Pharisees when they had complained that Jesus hadn’t followed the strict man-made rules about washing. Incidentally, a careful reading of the gospels shows that Jesus did not break any of the Old Testament Laws, and as not compelled to adhere to the legalistic tradition of the rabbis, who went to great lengths to introduce various man-made rules and regulations. In Luke chapter 11, Jesus proclaimed to the Pharisees, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness”. Jesus could see straight through them. Now this might cause us to ponder on what Jesus sees when he looks at us, but we have the full measure of the Holy Spirit to help us through our Christian walk through life. We are blessed with many promises that God will work in us to prepare us for our eternal service of his praise in the heavenlies. When Jesus met the woman at the well in Sameria (John chapter 4), he knew her circumstances, and offered her “a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. Let us today tap into that everlasting spring of life.
We can all help each other, by using words to build up the fellowship and to encourage each other, and I believe that the habit of exercising the flowing springs of living water out from our mouths will help refresh our souls and those around us.
Set a guard over my mouth, and keep watch over the door of my lips.
Help us to make our conversations to always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone.
Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. Purify the waters of our soul, with your living waters, so we might be a fountain of life to those around us.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Ps 141:3, Col 4:6, Hos 14:2 & Ps 19:14)
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Tomorrow’s Reading: James 3:13-16
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