Chapter three of James isn’t the first time God has tried to warn us about controlling our tongues. This is a concept He expresses all throughout the Bible. It’s so important because with our tongues we proclaim who we are and we proclaim who He is. We need to be careful and not misrepresent our Lord and Savior in a way that is actually against who He is.
Psalm 32:8-9 shows how our tongue will either be controlled by an understanding of God’s word or we will be controlled by misunderstanding. Truly, there are only two options here.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Lord, as we delve into your Word we pray for understanding. We pray that we will see through the filters that have been put in place by others and instead receive your wisdom so we can see the truth in your words. With this wisdom may we courageously love others as they are learning your ways too. In the One who is himself the Word – Amen!
Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Before we dive into it, we ask that you will provide us with insight so we can understand the wisdom behind your words and have the courage to apply it to our lives. We praise you for being gracious as we learn, knowing that each time we open your word we will see it with new eyes and understanding. Help our faith to keep maturing so that we can shine brightly for you.
James cautions those wanting to be teachers. Lord, it’s puzzling at first because sharing your word is what we are called to do, but James makes a distinction between people who set themselves up as teachers and sharers. Teachers are looked up to as an example. You don’t expect teachers to be perfect in their understanding because none of us are. That’s why we need a glorious savior! But you do expect teachers to be students of your word and cautious as they explain it. Their words and example influence so many lives. You don’t want them to claim things that are not from you or set up fences where you have not placed them. You want their words to bring you glory and honor and not spew deadly poison.
Help us Lord, as your people to not expect teachers to be you. You alone are perfect. When teachers stumble in their words, help us to approach them in a lovely way that we would want someone to approach us. Let us come to them personally and not blast them publicly. You want us to have controlled speech too and bring you honor in how we handle your word too.
In the One who reminds us that words have power – Amen!
Oh, Lord! We like to think much of ourselves and feel we have everything under control. We train our pets and some can even tame wild beasts like lions, but where we need the most help is controlling ourselves. Especially in the U.S. where we almost feel it’s our right or even our duty to freely share our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. We need always ask ourselves these questions before talking:
Is it the truth?
Is it beneficial?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
Would we want someone else to say it about us?
Will it bring honor to you?
Oh, Lord, let us grasp that just because we have the opportunity to talk doesn’t mean we should. May we humble ourselves to you and be silent when the time calls for it but be bold and prepared to speak when needed. Let us speak in a way that draws others to you. Let us plant the seed of faith, so it can be watered and mature in it’s time. Let us be an example of how to engage the culture around us in a loving and courageous way.
In the One who spoke out boldly and yet at other times remained humbly silent depending on the situation – Amen!
Oh, Lord, the overwhelming damage that can come from a small spark is something that we are witnessing now in the Northwest part of the U.S. It was a playful thing that started it all and yet the damage has been devastating.
For you to compare the mishap of our tongues to the horrors of a forest fire, makes us want to stay silent. So many, so many, Lord, have been displaced, their homes consumed. Ashes of trees that once stood tall and mighty to give protection and shelter to wildlife are now flying thousands of miles away and living a layer of ash on houses, cars, and lawns. It turning the skies gray even though the fire is no where near.
Help us, Lord, understand the impact our words have. They are powerful. They can lift others up and point them to you or they can tear them down and slander your name. Whether it’s gossiping, bragging, lying, manipulating, putting other down or flattering someone, help us not let things thing perculate in our hearts so they come sparking out of our mouths! We don’t want to be the cause of destruction and loss. Open our eyes to potential sparks residing inside us so we can extinguish them before they cause damage. Create in us a clean heart, Lord!
In the One who has holds the best extinguisher to squelch out the spark before it ignites anything – Amen!
How is it possible that our tiny, little tongues can do so much damage, Lord? Your word answers this easily…it speaks from the overflow of our hearts. If our hearts are full of evil, that is what will spew out. But if our hearts are filled with you, then your healing ways will be spoken from our lips.
Oh, Lord, create a clean heart in us so that our tongues will praise you consistently. Let us not sing praises to you one minute and then speak poisonous, evil words the next. We beg the Holy Spirit for self-control so that our thoughts are not of retaliation, hate, fear, slander, gossip, flattery, untruths, or blasphemy.
Help us not to be afraid and withhold the truth. Even our silence when we are withholding the truth out of fear can be deadly. Lord, may our words honor you and bring others into a truthful relationship with you. Let us not sugarcoat what it means to dedicate our lives to you. Let us live in such a way that dying to ourselves and the way we were, shows the joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control that can come by letting you reign in our hearts.
In the One who reminded us we will be known by our fruit – Amen!
Our words can bring life or death. So much power in such a little thing! Lord, may we take time to understand your Word so we can speak truth and life into others lives. Give us wisdom so we can cut through the lies in our lives that get whispered into our ear daily!
In the only One who can save us from the restless evil that is filled with deadly poison – Amen!
What are we doing, Lord? Are we Christians in name only? If we never said we were Christians or wore the symbols relating to you, would people know by our speech that we loved you?
If we aren’t going to let you change our hearts and lives, then why claim any part of you at all? It’s living a lie that people can see.
Instead of praising you one minute and then cursing others the next, we need your help to change our hearts. Circumcise our hearts, Lord, and cut away the parts that disgust and dishonor you.
Help us not to struggle against the pain of letting the worst of ourselves go so that we can be filled completely with you. When we start to fall back on hold habits, let us feel the pain of sin that you have taken away and be led by the Spirit back to your ways.
We confess our sins to you and repent of them, Lord. We praise you for how you forgive us and pray that you will be glorified by how we live.
In the One whose Words always challenge and lead to healing at the same time – Amen!
We are so hardheaded and stubborn, Lord! It is crystal clear that you want us to understand how dangerous our words can be. Not only have you reiterated this concept in several ways in this chapter alone but all throughout the Bible you repeat this idea. Help us not to just hear what is so important to you, but to cause a change in our behavior.
We have to make a decision to live for you because our words are the overflow of our hearts. Our words determine our actions and influence the actions of others.
We cannot serve you and Satan at the same time. Those are the only two options even though we would prefer to not think of it that way. We prefer to think that we3 can do whatever as long as we are still praising You, but you bluntly tell us this isn’t an option. Fresh water animals can’t survive in salt water. We can’t live two different lives. Who we are and who we trust with our lives will determine the fruit we bear.
Is it possible that we are trusting Satan more than we are trusting you, Lord? Is that possible even though we are proclaiming we love you? Again, you say “can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?” If we trust you, we will allow ourselves to be rooted in you and our actions will glorify you. But if we choose not to trust you, then our fruit will not be yours. It may be a great imitation but it will not come from the same source.
Satan is the great deceiver. He works hard to make us believe that the imitation is as good as the real fruit. May we allow you to fully occupy our hearts so that you may be glorified by our words and actions and we Satan’s plan of deception will not override you.
In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!
Wisdom…it seems so elusive, Lord! But then we realize it is only elusive because we are holding onto our pride. When we humble ourselves before you and seek your truth with our whole heart, you give it freely.
Oh, Lord, may we stop trying to make your words fit our agenda. Instead let us read your word without our preconceived ideas and ask what it is you are actually saying. Give us wisdom and courage to apply your truth to our lives even when it is uncomfortable for us to do so.
May we have a reverent fear for you so we will not twist your words to fit what we want. Let us study more and share our opinions less. May we let your Word talk to our hearts and change them so that we may humbly live and serve in a way that glorifies you.
In the One who is the Word and our Savior – Amen!
So many times, Lord, we allow our feelings to takeover our actions instead of your truth.
When our selfishness flares up and we cast out our anchor so that we permit our hearts to harbor bitter envy, help us recognize our actions. Open our eyes to understanding that we have just welcomed earthly, unspiritual, and demonic wisdom into our hearts!
Demonic wisdom! How that hurts to even admit.
Once again you show us this dichotomy we are trying to live in. We can’t be humble and live a life that glorifies you at the same time that we are boasting about our selfish ambitions. We cannot focus on our will and your will at the same time.
The struggle of letting go of earthy envy is real. You do not deny that it will be difficult but you proclaim that your way is worth it. When we get into this selfish frenzy, may we listen to the Holy Spirit encourage us to pull the anchor up and moving to a harbor that is worthy of your calling.
In the One who can calm our storms of selfishness – Amen!
But we are encouraged to be ambitious! How the devil works to persuade us that what WE are striving for is so important!
Even when we know we are walking in your ways, Satan works to shift our focus from you to us and create that selfish ambition in the midst of your calling.
He is so sneaky and we constantly have to be on guard in regards to the ambitions we carry in our hearts. Why are we truly doing what we are doing? Are we trying to gain power, wealth, or glory for ourselves? Or are we striving to honor you with everything we receive?
If Satan came up to us and blatantly said, “Choose me or Christ,” we would choose you every time. He knows this. He is not stupid, so he finds more subtle ways. Ways that seem less harmful to us but at the same time turn our attention inward instead of toward you.
Slowly he brings us to a place of endless want and before we know it we are wrapped up in evil. Sometimes we lose our way so much so we don’t even see the evil as evil anymore. Oh, Lord, we pray we don’t get to the point of seeing evil as good, but if we do, wake us up! Wake us up from the spiritual nightmare that masks itself as a pleasant dream. Help us to the see the reality of our hearts and expel Satan from it.
In light of how easy it is for earthly demonic thoughts to take root, it makes perfect sense why you encourage us to not only guard our hearts but examine them daily. May we be honest with ourselves and not kick your truth to the curb to try and satisfy an earthly desire that can never be satisfied.
In the One who broke our enslavement to sin and all things evil – Amen!
How is it possible for a six-letter word, contain so much action.
- Full of Mercy.
- Good Fruit.
- Impartial. Sincere.
We feel ignorant for believing that wisdom has to do more with what we know than by what we do. Is that the difference between earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom?
You make it clear that wisdom is an understanding acted out courageously. These action words are bold and humble all at the same time. They take an inner strength that can only be provided together through the Holy Spirit. Is this why you say, if we ask for wisdom you will give it to us? You know full well, we cannot achieve this on our own. This is your heavenly wisdom and it is so beautiful. Oh, Lord, we pray for your wisdom to come down upon us. Help us live your wisdom out in our daily lives.
In the One who is the living embodiment of wisdom – Amen!
Lord, we praise you for your straightforwardness. You make it plain to hearts that want to know what you are saying and foolish to those who just want to fight you.
We thank you for the power in Christ we have to choose peace even when peace is not offered from others. We always have the choice of how we will react and if we will choose to sow peace or harshness. May we believe your truth and put it into practice:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word provokes anger.”
Give us the strength, wisdom, and courage to sow in peace so we can reap a harvest of righteousness.
In the One who was tortured for our sins, yet still asked for us all to be forgiven, realizing we didn’t know what we were doing – Amen!
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