James 3 Devotional
Words are tricky. You can say the exact same sentence, but annuciate one of the words differently, and you have made one person’s day and ruined another’s. Using the same word, but emphasizing it one way or another brings about a multitude of meanings. It’s crazy. Words are crazy. The tongue is crazy. James calls it a flame of fire. A world of wickedness. Set on fire by hell itself. I’m no Biblical scholar, but that sounds bad.
So, with those images in your melon, let’s go ahead and assume those monks who take vows of silence are on to something. Now they don’t seem so kooky. The fact that in one breath we can praise God for all our blessings, and in the next curse Him for all the ills of this world, is pretty ridiculous.
The very reality that we can be so nice and caring with our words one minute, and then metophorically slice someone in half like a verbal ninja the next, is insane. Wouldn’t it be nuts if the guy that came up with “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” bumped into a few sharp tongues in a dark alleyway sometime? I bet he’d be sore the next morning. And probably come up with a new saying.
Words are daggers. And, then some others are pillows. Sharp, hurtful daggers, or perfect fluff ball pillows. It’s one or the other, and James believes that in order to control your life, you must first learn to control your tongue. And that is like climbing Mt. Everest with flip-flops and a pocket knife. Don’t expect that to be an easy task. Pack a lunch. Learn to fish. Something. Gonna be there a while. Figuring out how to wrangle that thing into submission…
James says you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. It’s gotta be one or the other. Either you have a fresh, clean, holy mouth…or you spit hellfire when you talk and need to carry some Mentos in your pocket all your life. Your choice.
And then there’s wisdom. True wisdom. It is humble and exudes humility. It is expressed by understanding God’s mission for us by going out into the world – be it across the globe or across the street – and spreading good news, good cheer and good works. However, it is not done with the idea that the spotlight gets to go on you when the day is done.
Wisdom is not illustrated when God’s work is done through you, yet you take all the glory for it. Wisdom is fulfilled through the submission to others where the glory is always focused outward, not inward.
Wisdom is attained by avoiding the obstacles of envy and attempts at personal gain while spreading the wealth of the Word to all whom you encounter. That way, we all get rich.