The Tongue, a Key To Our Hearts

We have had several Connect groups getting together throughout the summer. These are small groups gathering to encourage one another, pray for one another, and are learning together how our faith in Christ works out practically, in our daily lives. We have been going through the book of James, which has been powerful in helping us do just this.
One of the topics that has come up in our study has been how we use our words. James uses three different illustrations to help us understand the power of the tongue. We can put a bit into a horse's mouth and it directs their entire body as well. We can also see how large ships are being directed by what is a comparatively very small rudder. I often think of the giant ships coming into the harbor in Duluth. It is amazing how those large ships can be directed by a small rudder right through the canal into the harbor. Also, a large forest can be set aflame by just a small spark or fire.
One thing we find, is the tongue (that is, our words) cannot be tamed. The words we speak come from our hearts and this is the key. Our words can be like a fiery arrow that can be aimed and shot directly at another person's heart. It can deeply wound somebody else, and the sad thing is many times this is our intention.
We find today that we don't even know how to disagree with one another gracefully. We see it all over social media. If we disagree with someone, we will put them down or call them names. This makes the other person put their defenses up, and it ends the discussion or it just becomes a war of words.
James also says these words: "My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness." (James 1:19)
It seems we often get this wrong. We are quick to speak, slow to listen, and quick to anger. Just think how things would change if we would seek to understand first. Then listen to one another and not get angry simply because someone has a different view.
This may be difficult, but it means talking to one another even when we disagree and hearing each other out with gentleness and wisdom. It is so much easier to just say negative things and put down the other person rather than taking the time to listen and understand before we respond.
There are so many applications for this. Conflicts and a war of words happen between husband and wife, parents and children, other family, in our communities, and on social media. Basically, it happens wherever there are people. We as people, have been made in the image of God, but our sinful, selfish ways and pride get in the way. Having respect for one another even when we disagree, putting away our pride and determining to be peaceable and reasonable will help us all.
Going further, Jesus said this: “But I say to you who listen: love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-29) It is not part of our human nature to do what Jesus asks us to do here, but it is so positively different that it would change the world around us if we followed His words. The great news is that Jesus has the power to change us from within to give us a new heart and peace so that our words will reflect our gratitude for all that He has done for us.
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Mark Anderson