January 8, 2018
I have learned a few things (not everything) over the years in being married to Katie. For instance, early in our marriage she would show me something she wanted to wear when we were going out, and ask what I thought. In my male cluelessness I would be honest, like, “Why do you want to wear that?” Of course I felt like she really wanted to know my opinion, but I didn’t realize such a response was interpreted by her feminine brain as “That looks terrible, why did you ever purchase that, why are you even thinking about wearing that?” Many years later I have become much wiser and suppress my honest and logical response, by either saying how good it looks on her, or by asking her what she thinks and then quickly agreeing with her assessment. Yes, I have grown in my experience as a husband. It has been a process, but she has definitely refined my male tendency to say the wrong thing and I have grown wiser in my response to fashion questions. You might say I have matured in my role as a husband.
The Bible talks about the process by which we grow in our spiritual lives. It points out that when we face tough times it will test our faith, and by testing our faith we develop perseverance, and that through perseverance we become what God intends us to be. One of the words used in Scripture to describe this condition is mature or perfect. The word teleios in the Greek, means complete or fully grown. It is used in James 1:4 to describe the maturity that is gained through endurance and experience. James 1:4, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” In James 3:2 it refers to the evidence in our lives of growth and maturity, like controlling what we say and the words we use. James 3:2, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”
America is a nation of talkers. There are radio talk shows, where people listen to other people talk. There are TV talk shows where people watch other people talk. People talk, text, tweet, and blog about the weather, religion, politics, sports, and just about anything else. The statistics say that the average American spends almost 3 hours on their smart phone alone every day. In an average lifetime a person has about 30 conversations every day, and will spend at least 20% of their life just talking. The average person’s conversations for one year would fill 66 books of 800 pages each. Most people learn early in their life that talking can get them into trouble, (especially us guys), which may be why the average man talks about half as much as the average women (my research, not official stats).
People who never conquer their tongues however, face ruined lives and broken relationships. The truth is that our words can be the greatest threat to our testimony, our success in life, and to our testimony as a Christ follower. James 3:4-8 “Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
The significance of the ship’s rudder is that it is relatively small in size when compared to the overall ship’s construction. James makes the comparison between a ship’s rudder and one of the smallest parts of the human body, the tongue. When we control something we decide what to do, where to go, and how to do it. Do you think James would be concerned with the way believers use their tongues in today’s society? We live in a world of rampant cursing, sexual language, and disrespect to others. Believers sometimes get caught up in some of that. So the question for us is, how can we control our tongues? James 1:26 says, “If anyone considers himself religious and does not bridle his tongue he deceives himself.” James is basically saying, if you can control your tongue, you can control your whole body. Our controlled speech can impact the world we live in today, and the influence we can have by what we say can be incredible. We can inspire, encourage, teach, comfort, all by what we say. Conversely, our uncontrolled speech can, and will, cause damage in the world we live in today. By misusing our tongue, we can destroy reputations, lives, and testimonies. It is one of the most effective ways Satan uses to propagate sin.
So we need to surrender the control of our tongue to the Lord. We need to confess the times we have used our tongue to damage or speak evil of people. We need to demonstrate in our everyday life that our lives and our tongue are under God’s control.
Have a great week,