06-05-19 Insight Post


This short letter from James is packed with wisdom. Some have referred to it as The Proverbs (see the Old Testament) of the New Testament. In chapter 3 we discover practical insight on the power of our words – both to build up, and to destroy, to do good, and to cause harm. After reading this chapter, I read the Washington Post and there were several articles about people using words in ways that caused harm and turmoil – some intentional and others unintentional. These stories included some misguided tweets by a politician and on-air comments by a sports figure. Admittedly, it is easier to spot problems with how others use words, but that is not where our primary (or even secondary!) focus should be. You and I are responsible for the words that pass through our lips and finger tips. Listen to James’ warning, “…the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:5-6 (NLT)

Fire is a good thing, when it’s used wisely and carefully, but it can cause great harm if it’s mishandled. The tongue is a valuable part of our body, but when it is not used wisely it can cause major damage. James starts the chapter with a warning to teachers in the church, telling them that they will be held accountable for all they say and teach. (All followers of Jesus will be held accountable for all we say, but teachers even more so, because of their position of influence.)

In a time where we have access to means of communication that spreads our words anywhere in the world in a matter of moments, this message should give us pause. Our words matter, and God wants us to see their potential and use them to speak the truth, instruct, warn, correct and encourage! When we do this, we have God’s blessing. When we choose not to be wise and careful with our words, we can count on them coming back to bite us. Here is Jesus’ warning for us: “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” Matthew 12:36-37 (NLT)

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Rusty Coram

Senior Pastor

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