I’m seeking God more intentionally these days in the matters of our family. Matters in how we are loving and relating with one another. How we are shaping each other.
And when you seek God, you will find him. I’m knocking quieting through prayer and fasting and he has faithfully opened the door to truth. And even though it’s a promise he gives us, I’m still a little surprised when it happens.
I held my bible in my hands with a confidence that where it fell open, there would be a word to dwell on. I needed the thoughts and attitudes of my heart judged by Truth. And if you are open to this painful but freeing process, the scriptures will surely pierce as a sword does.
My eyes fall upon James 3, and I cringe knowing it’s for me. For all of us in this home.
The tongue is a fire, it tells me. A world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire.
Words spoken against love, how they burn. And spread. And pick up momentum from one person to the other as we flame it along. And in a short time, we can’t see the truth past the smoke and fire of evil.
Relationships corrupted. A home consumed by fire. By the mere foolishness of the tongue.
By disrespectful words from the lips of a child. By irritated rants from the mouth a father. By thoughtless talk between siblings. By quick-tempered reactions from a mother. By naïve imitation from the tongue of a toddler. By the partial truth of a husband who doesn’t want to disappoint. By the emotional preservation and withholding of a wife.
And it’s not just what we say. It’s also what we don’t say. Words of love, encouragement and affirmation — even the expression of hurt and disappointment — lost to pride and neglect. This, too, is the sin of the tongue.
I want to scream into the scriptures But we’re not like this all the time! This is just a small part of who we are! Don’t you see the good that pours out? The reading of books out loud, the sweet prayers at breakfast? Don’t you hear the love when we apologize and the encouragement that I pour on my children? Are you listening when we sing praises to you and speak of you to strangers? Don’t you hear the loving adoration that flows from my husband? Doesn’t the story we live speak louder than the words spoken in our home? And the written words I offer to this virtual place of grace – don’t they matter?
And the living and active word of God responds in truth and teaches through grace.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. This should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
I feed this word to my children for breakfast. They hear it and it fills them. And Luke understands the truth that it only takes a drop of salt water to make the fresh spring brackish.
We are humbled by our inconsistent behavior. We stop and ask for forgiveness. From God, from each other.
With genuine wonder Connor asks, If no man can tame the tongue how do we get better?
We still try, says Lydia Jane.
Yes, we still try, I agree. And we seek God to fill our heart with an abundance of truth, respect, honesty and love so the words we speak are an outpouring of his spirit.
God’s spirit can bridle our tongue. And the powerful part we play in the process is submission. Submission to the spirit. Submission to quiet the words of our flesh, and to speak the words of our heart.
I urge us all to consider the ways our flesh and spirit battle over our tongue, how it might be both a weapon that works against love and a tool that receives and welcomes, blesses and praises.
I set before you a hospitality challenge for this coming week: Consider one person in your life who would be blessed by your verbal love. Maybe it’s someone you withhold from. Or someone you take your frustrations out on. Or someone who is difficult to love. Or someone who doesn’t offer words of love to you. Pray that God will purify your words to them. Pray against the response of the flesh to protect you through silence or defensive words. Take risks with your words. And generously and lovingly pour them on another this week.