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Recap: James, the finale



The mouth is so powerful it deserved its own post.


A few years ago, I realised that my mouth is a very powerful tool. In my younger years, I said things, proclaimed them over and over flipantly and as I matured, I realised that those things came true, albeit many years later in some cases. More recently, I also noticed that some of the things I say are things that God put on my heart because prior to the moment I felt those things or "heard" them, I had no desire or concept of those things, yet I am so sure of them when I speak them and they materialise. Those things have taught me to be careful of what I speak out loud. It gave me a glimpse into why some are very particular about what they speak, going as far as not claiming illness or any kind of less that satisfactory condition in their lives. Though I'm not personally there, I get it, the tongue is powerful.


So powerful that a gentle tongue is described as a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4). We can use our tongues to renew someone, whether by lifting them with encouraging words, giving hope, even a compliment that turns a person's day around, express love or care. So much good can come from our tongue. Similarly, perverseness of the tongue can break the spirit. What comes out of the mouth can defile a person (Matt 15:11), quite literally crush a person or change the course of their future. Discouraging, condescending, hurtful words have been known to influence people's decisions or outlook, years after they were actually said. Many struggle to disassociate from hurtful things said and require a great deal of work to heal.


This is something I've been thinking about in the last week or so since I finished studying James. What is the value of what comes out of my mouth? Is there any? In the last few days in particular, the Holy Spirit has led me to think about the value of the words I'm about to speak before I speak them. Now, I will actively challenge myself to think before I speak by asking myself:


  1. Do I need to speak? i.e do I need to contribute or can I just listen?

  2. What is the value of what I am about to speak? to eliminate gossip, bashing etc

  3. Are my words defiling another human being? Hint: Will I say the same thing in the same way in the person's presence.

  4. For good measure, do I need to speak? i.e am I speak to validate or fill space or can i just listen?


The Bible tells us that it's impossible to tame the tongue (James 3) and I don't disagree. In fact it says that if anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man. That little tongue boasts greats things, given the ability to defile the whole body (James 3:5). Again, over the last few weeks, I've thought about this. I could be doing so well investing time in my relationship with God through prayer, fasting, worship, building an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, cultivating good habits and then boom, someone annoys me and I curse them out. The way I see it, the tongue is a true reflection of my heart. I believe that the more my heart is turned towards righteous things, the less the desire to align with things that are not Godly.


Of course it is difficult to tame the tongue, but a good measure of where my heart is, is how I feel afterwards. I noticed that in the few weeks that the Holy Spirit has prompted me to think about my speech, even when I haven't said anything harmful, I feel guilty if I didn't need to share or I ended up talking about people. Again, I need to ask myself more often:


  1. Do I need to contribute?

  2. Do I need to engage?

  3. Should I steer the conversation away from where it is?


Taming the tongue requires help from the Holy Spirit. James has already told us it's impossible, but in partnership with the Holy Spirit, I believe it is possible. The Holy Spirit is the quiet voice that will stop me from saying something I shouldn't, will keep me conscious of what I say so that I may not repeat it next step. I also have to choose to be obedient to the Holy Spirit and sometimes that's the difficult part. Recently I felt that the Holy Spirit tried to help me control my tongue, but I insisted on sharing something that didn't need to be shared. The person whom I shared with was not better or worse off with the new information I shared, so why did I bother?


Prayer

My Lord God, let my speech always be gracious, void of judgment and discouragement and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6), let no corrupting talk come out of my mouth; (Ephesians 4:29). Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth (Psalm 141:3), help me to use it for righteous things, to praise you, encourage your people, testify to your goodness, speak wisdom and justice (Psalm 37:30).


Until next time, keep us a secret x


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