“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” James 3:2Ouch. Did you feel that? Probably not…but I’ll bet you have in the past…that little jab as you listened to someone who carelessly spoke without regard to the feelings of others. It may have been intentional or purely accidental, as we never know the path that someone else has travelled.
This weekend, Pastor Tyler shared from James 3:1-12 about the power of our words. I appreciated his honesty in his struggle with this issue, because I believe it is common in everyone.
We were reminded that our words have the potential to hurt or to heal, to escalate or to diffuse, to inspire or to discourage, and to expand or to ruin our influence. If asked, I think we would all say that we want our words to heal, diffuse, inspire and expand our influence. Unfortunately, too often our words outrun our brain, and we find ourselves on a downward spiral that requires restoration. We hurt a friend. We exacerbate and already difficult situation. We make someone uncomfortable. We destroy a relationship.
Should we be surprised? Probably not. Even those closest to Jesus, the twelve, allowed their words to get out of control at times. James and John argued over who would sit at Jesus left and right hand. Peter on more than one occasion boldly spoke of his commitment to Christ only to deny Him during His darkest hour. Was the error intentional? No. Did God love them any less? No. Did they have some relationships to restore? I am sure. Did they grow from the experience? Absolutely. Do we?
Pastor Tyler encouraged us to surrender to God’s spirit, to filter our words though God’s Word, to participate in community with others, and to listen more and talk less. It is not a quick fix. It is a process that we must be diligent to put into place before we allow our words to set us on a course “set on fire by hell.” And, I don’t know about you, but that is one course I would like to avoid.
Something to think about:
- Are you consistently aware of your words and the effect they have on others?
- Do you filter your words through God’s Word? What would that look like?
- Have you relinquished your freedom to “be a jerk?”
- Are you actively involved in relationships where you will be held accountable for your words?
- What step do you need to take this week to be an encouragement to others through what you say?