When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3: 3-6
Sticks and stones… you know the rest… Oh, that we would lie to our children, and to ourselves. Words. Powerful, life-giving, spirit-lifting, soul-shattering, painful, heartbreaking words. They spring from our lips without much thought, without much concern, both the good and the bad. We speak so quickly, without taking time to measure each word according to the moment in which it’s given.
What is in a word? What is in the word you prescribe to any given situation? Is it a word of healing or a word of condemnation? Oh Father, that our words may be few, that we may scrutinize every adjective, and only say the words you have written on our hearts. God please, help me to tame my tongue, and if a fire must be started, start it in my heart, and burn away all that is not of you.
Who do you think you are?
You are the most selfish child, I have ever met.
You are so ungrateful.
You are annoying me right now, please stop.
Why can’t you ever listen to me?
Who do you think you’re talking to like that?
I am so sick of the way you act.
At least your brother knows how to obey.
These are just some of the words I have spoken to my children. As I sit here reading the book of James, and am tossed around in the ocean of conviction so great I feel like I could drown. How can I speak to someone I love so much, with such harshness? I would lay down my life for my children, but that is not what God is calling me to do. He is calling me to lay down my tongue. Yet I know enough about the Bible to know that it’s not just my mouth that needs to be washed out, it’s my heart.
When I speak these words to my children I am doing more damage than even I can fully comprehend. I am cursing a child of God, I am placing judgment on their heads, and I am telling them that their sins define who they are. My words lack grace, they are not intended to build up, but to tear down.
Today, I will take my conviction and I will repent. I will apologize to my children, and I will ask God and my children to forgive me. I will pray that I am quick to listen and slow to speak. That I measure every word against the wisdom of the Word. I will never be a perfect mom, but I can be different. I am already different. I am not the old me, I am a new creation, and God can create in me a new heart, so that is what I will ask for.
You see, these words come from a heart that want obedient and respectful children (there is nothing wrong with that), but if I want that at the cost of disobeying God then I am dealing with an idol here, and when I don’t get what I want I sin to get it (I’ll write about this as well).
I no longer want to be a law-giving, grace withholding, angry, hurtful mom. So today, I will confess, I will be forgiven, and I will walk the other way. The narrow path that isn’t easy, but leads to life. Life not only meant for me, but for my children as well.
Thank you Lord, for making me new, help me in my struggle to speak in a manner that builds my children up, and doesn’t tear them down.
View 31 Days Through The Book Of James here.