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"Blessing and cursing" shouldn't coexist

September 7, 2022
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Daily Scripture

James 3:7-10

7 People can tame and already have tamed every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish. 8 No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we both bless the Lord and Father and curse human beings made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it just shouldn’t be this way!

Daily Reflection & Prayer

James said people tame BIG, dangerous animals like lions, tigers, or elephants. But humans have yet to tame the small organ we call the tongue. Its damage can reach farther than any animal, fire or ship. Like Jesus’ teaching (cf. Matthew 5:21-22), James’ letter stressed that “however one treated other humans, it was as if one did it to God himself, because people were made in his image….The issue here (as in 1:19–20; 4:11; 5:9) is speech hostile to others—fitting the letter’s setting.” *

  • Verse 10 reminded us that “blessing and cursing come from the same mouth.” This week pay attention to the words you speak or write. (Take notes or record them on your phone if you need something to help you pay attention.) Are these words of blessing or cursing? Are there people or groups of people you continually speak badly of? How can you allow God to help you change this habit?
  • Take James’ warning in verse 9 seriously, even if at first it strikes you as unrealistic. “Human beings are created in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). The basis for not cursing another person is because they are in God’s image and likeness. To curse a human being is, in effect, to curse God (Genesis 9:6).” ** How can you train yourself to look for God’s image, however faint, in that annoying co-worker, infuriating politician or unfriendly neighbor?
Prayer

Creator God, that with all our differences we all somehow bear your image no doubt points to your vastness. Train my eyes to look for your image especially in the people I think couldn’t possibly have any trace of it. Amen.

GPS Insights

Shannon Starek

Shannon Starek

Shannon Starek serves as the Director of Discipleship at Resurrection Downtown. She loves to travel and has been to 49 states, 11 countries and lived in Vancouver, Canada for grad school! When not gallivanting all over the world, she lives in Liberty with her husband, Aaron, and two sons, Owen and Porter.

Let me set the scene…I am driving in my car. I am listening to COR Worship Collective. I am in the zone. I am trying to steady my heart and center myself within Christ. Suddenly a car comes speeding past me. Or worse yet, I am trying to speed past someone else. My mind shifts, my heart turns off, words go through my head (sometimes out of my mouth, if I’m being honest). And these aren’t the kind of words I want my son to hear.

In a split second I go from praising God to literally cursing others. Cursing other human beings. Human beings made in the image of the very God I’m supposedly “praising.” In that moment I can’t help but feel as though there is no hope for this heart of mine. But even though James brings a strong rebuke against the tongue, I see a glimmer of hope.

Immediately following this passage from James, we see water described…fresh water and salt water. Another translation says bitter water and sweet water. And while James says that the two, bitter and sweet, can’t flow from the same spring, I have seen that over time and by God’s strength, the waters can in fact change.

I was once a very bitter person. Life threw things my way that were unfair and I wasn’t having any of it. I wallowed in my bitterness for some time, and I am telling you that the words on my tongue were filled with the fire and rage that James describes. However, I am no longer that bitter person. And that is only made possible by the sweetness of God’s grace and redemption.

Of course, I am still a work in progress, but I now read this passage with hope. God can grow me and change me. The waters of bitterness that so freely flowed from my heart now taste a little sweeter. And hopefully they are growing sweeter all the time.

From bitter to sweet. From bitter to sweet.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Comment on James 3:9 in NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook . Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Patrick J. Hartin, study note on James 3:9 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 458NT.