Our words can bring themes of destruction or themes of life transformation but notice the verse in James 3…
7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
What does that teach? The human tongue is uncontrollable. You can’t do it. We can train dogs to do tricks, Flipper to jump through a hoop, elephants at a circus, sometimes tigers and lions, we can train birds to send messages, but we can’t control the human tongue. We can’t do it. It must come from outside of us because our tongue problem is a heart problem. Look at verse 9.
Seems like odd language..submit to God. I mean come on, we’re American’s aren’t we? It’s not like this is the 1700’s? Submit to God may sound like sort of giving in, relinquishing control, giving up our identity, not thinking, but in fact, in context it means active allegiance.
Actively aligning ourselves with God doesn’t mean passivity, but actively aligning ourselves with His will and realigning our heart, mind, strength, and soul to live for Him and His glory. I remember when I first met Jesus the hardest thing for me in the beginning was to pray because it was a tangible way that I was admitting that I needed help and it was really difficult to admit that I needed help. It is difficult because when we submit to God we are aligning ourselves with someone who might take advantage of us, who might let us down, who might abuse His power, or disappoint us and it makes it really difficult to trust Him.
The second theme that we find coming out of the condition of our heart is a theme of encouragement, transformation, and life-change through Jesus Christ. Proverbs teaches us that words from a friend are like perfume and incense, they are like water on a dry and weary land, they are like irons that sharpen one another, and although we can create a lot of pain for one another we can also speak powerful words of truth to one another:
Encouragement: We can send emails, texts, phone calls, notes, or in person and say things to people that are meaningful and important. Taking the time to speak specific encouragements to our spouse about their relationship with the kids. Telling our friends what we appreciate about them. Taking the time to appreciate a positive behavior of one of our kids.
Participation: Sometimes it is so easy to point out what people are doing wrong. My grandfather would always say, “Some people were raised nursing on a pickle.” Always see the sour things in life and for whatever reason we just always see the negative and as a result we remain really passive. Instead of being a passive observer, we can take active ownership and help make it better, and we can participate in our marriages, our children, our jobs, our friendships, our spiritual life and instead of sitting back and critiquing, get in the game and participate.
Compassion: Making time in our schedules to show compassion toward others. Sometimes our schedules are so busy that there is no room for compassion. We tell people to drink a six-pack of suck it up and move on. Sometimes we need to create some time in our schedules to show compassion toward others instead of filling up every hour of every day so that we can fill better about ourselves.
Jesus said it this way, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks…” and sometimes the words don’t have to make it out of our mouth, but they are in our heart, they dominate our thoughts, and if you are a little more quiet they don’t always come out, but our words can be a gauge for the spiritual condition of our heart and as I examine my heart there are two types of themes that tend to come out of my heart. Themes of destruction and themes of transformation. The stream of destruction has words like:
Slander: When we put other people down with our words. Sometimes they are direct, but mostly they are passive / aggressive comments that we make to others, under our breath, or in our heart. We put people down about their personality, their ability, their looks, we condescend, we belittle, and take little jabs at one another.
Gossip: When we talk about people behind their back and for some reason our heart gets so excited to talk about someone else’s little secrets. Did you hear about, did you know, did you see, can you believe or even better, I think we need to pray, we need to help, and our heart gets so excited to gossip about the failures of others.
Gaze in wonder of what Jesus accomplished at the cross.
In Luke 15 there are three parables that are told. One of a lost coin, a lost sheep, and the one we have been looking at and in the first two stories there is always someone who goes out to look for the lost coin or the lost sheep, however, in the last story nobody goes out to look for the lost son, and it is suppose to strike you off guard and it is because the older brother was suppose to go out. The older brother should have gone to the father and said, “Father, my younger brother has acted foolishly and his life is in ruins.” I will leave the home, go look for him, pay for his debt at my expense, and bring him home.” However, that older brother doesn’t exist in the story and as Jesus is telling the story He is inviting us to imagine and yearn for a true older brother. Jesus is that older brother.
Sin disrupts that attachment.
The scriptures tell us that Jesus who created and sustains all of creation is perfect and Holy and that His holiness demands that we be perfect to dwell in His presence. The scriptures tell us what keeps us from dwelling in the presence of Jesus is described as sin. Most of us think of sin as an external behavior that doesn’t line up with the Holiness of God, however, Jesus shows us in the Luke 15 parable it is more than merely our external behavior. This is what tripped up the older brother.
When our hearts begin to drift off toward spiritual entitlement we need to be on guard. Below are a few biblical principles against spiritual entitlement.
All of humanity was created to be attached to Jesus
Simple right. We desperately need Jesus. We find ourselves living in a culture that gives the appearance of self-sufficiency and if we want food we go to the grocery store, if we want water we turn on the faucet, if we want something new we order it online and it shows up at our door. It becomes difficult to see why we would need Jesus. We conclude we are basically good people who will occasionally need a little help and Jesus is there to give us a hand. However, the scriptures describe it a little differently.
Hebrews1:3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
When I was 18 a friend of mine began to talk to me about Jesus and to be honest it was really annoying. I saw Jesus as a crutch for people who couldn’t make it in life. A cosmic kill-joy. A list of rules and there was nothing about Jesus that created any curiosity or interests. My only exposure to Jesus or church were the people who came on television and asked me to put my hand on the TV screen and they would say that tingly sensation you feel is the Holy Spirit. I remembered thinking, “That’s just static from the TV!”