“I will show you my faith by my works.”
“The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell… No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so…
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 2:18b; 3:6,8-10,13-18
The tongue is a fire, and not a pretty one. In the chaos of clashing cultures and inner anger, the tongue adds fuel to flame, distorting truth and disrupting discourse. The very tool that can be used for so much good is too often unreined and left to do much harm. Even solid faith is shrouded when a runaway tongue undoes or destroys every otherwise good work.
The Lord calls us to be fire fighters and faith farmers. If we are truly people of faith, our behavior should look and sound like it. By His Spirit our words must be controlled, and used for blessing, uplifting, truth-telling with love, and consoling. We can quell the cacophony of bellicose arguments and controversy by reminding ourselves that those with whom we converse are also image-bearers, and speak to them as such. We remember that faith displays itself in being distinctly other, unlike the world and very much like Jesus. We douse the flames of unrighteousness by the meekness of wisdom, smothering the earthly with the heavenly. (1 Corinthians 14:3; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 4:15)
Are we prone to criticism and contention, speaking evil of others? Do our words antagonize and tone of voice invite friction? Are we aware of the distrust our betraying confidence enflames, the destruction our gossip breeds, or the conflagration our pestering and goading sparks? Confess the sin, and quench the fires with grace upon grace! Hoe out the gripes and sow in the peace. Bridle emotion with reason, and nurture sincere impartiality over arrogant superiority. Give way for faith to bear its glorious fruit. (Colossians 3:10-16; James 4:11)
“Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise.
Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.” ~Frances Havergal (1874)
Father, may my words be gracious, sowing love and truth to produce a harvest of righteousness, that You might be praised.