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Tongue control = person control

September 5, 2022

Daily Scripture

James 3:1-3

1 My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because we know that we teachers will be judged more strictly. 2 We all make mistakes often, but those who don’t make mistakes with their words have reached full maturity. Like a bridled horse, they can control themselves entirely. 3 When we bridle horses and put bits in their mouths to lead them wherever we want, we can control their whole bodies.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Why would James single out teachers for special caution? “In the early church the teacher held an important ministry (e.g., Acts 13:1; 1 Corinthians 12:29; Ephesians 4:11). Because teachers influence others, especially in their understanding of their faith, they have a serious responsibility to teach the truth.” * But James extended wisdom to more than just one group who needed to watch their words. Everyone, he believed, can do damage with words (cf. Proverbs 11:9; 12:18; 18:21).

  • One reason to focus on our speech is that words can do damage in many different ways. “Let slip the wrong word at the wrong moment and a precious relationship can be spoilt forever. A promise can be broken. A bad impression can be given which can never be repaired. No wonder the Psalmist prayed that God would place a sentry in front of his mouth, to check on everything that was coming out (Psalm 141.3).” ** In what ways have you seen words cause pain or brokenness?
  • As we saw last week, James lived in a city in which angry speech would cause a great tragedy. “Some teachers were now advocating a sort of ‘wisdom’ that would soon lead to a failed revolt against Rome and massive suffering (AD 66–70).” *** We’ll see as this chapter ends that like his half-brother Jesus (cf. Luke 19:41-44), James longed for peaceful wisdom. Do you see violence as a good solution to problems or, like many Christian ethicists, as only a dire last resort?

Lord Jesus, the prophet Isaiah named you “the prince of peace.” Embed that spirit within my words and my heart, that I may live as one of the peacemakers you blessed. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Ashley Morgan-Kirk

Ashley Morgan-Kirk

Ashley serves as the Online Connection and Care Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. After seven years of higher ed in religion, she finally understands that she can't figure out God (no matter how hard she tries). She’s leaning into the challenge to move from a thinking-based faith to loving God with both her head and heart.

I have two very small tattoos on each of my wrists. One is a darkly shaded triangle that points inward. The other is a lightly shaded triangle that points outward. Most people don’t even know they’re there, but they are there to remind me of an important reality: I can help to create good or evil in the world each day.

If I turn inward, I can more easily turn toward selfishness, thinking only for the good of myself. If I turn outward, I can more easily turn toward selflessness, thinking for the good of others. When I think about the power of words, I think about how easy it is to open our mouths and tear others down–often for our own good. That’s perhaps why it is such a gift to others when we open our mouths and build them up – for the good of them. Words are a powerful tool that we have to create good in the world around us.

Here are some ideas to take away today:
–get caught talking well of someone behind their back,
–speak of others as if they are standing right next to you,
–use a “create good filter” on your words daily.
If we can do that, I believe we will create more good in the world daily, as God invites us to do.

© 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.

* Patrick J. Hartin, study note on James 3:1 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 458NT.
** Wright, N. T., Early Christian Letters for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 21). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
*** Comment on James 3:1 in NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook . Zondervan. Kindle Edition.