May 16, Monday

Editor’s Note: Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Jabez Yeo.  Jabez, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently working in NYC and serving at TRPC-E.  He hopes to become a missionary.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Proverbs 15:4: A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

16A theological discussion may seem too daunting for many, particularly for QT devotions; however, today you will actually get to meet this brilliant theologian who will remind you of—you!

One of the many heresies that were prevalent in the early church was modalism, which denied belief in three distinct identities within God. Rather, modalism proposed that the one God had three aspects or roles. For example, the Holy Spirit would not be a distinct person but another manifestation of the Father and Son. This heresy naturally implied that not only the Son was crucified but also the Father.

In the midst of confusion, an early Church Father named Tertullian rejected this version of God’s triunity and established that Christians believed in “one substance (i.e., being-ness that makes something what it is) and three persons.”[1] While this may seem like a given theological fact today, Tertullian was the first to explain that God’s oneness “does not rule out multiplicity; just as biological organisms can be one and yet made up of interconnected and mutual parts.”[2] In many ways, Tertullian is the father of the formal doctrine of the Trinity that was ultimately finalized in various creeds.

Unfortunately, Tertullian was renowned not only for his theological wisdom but also for his sharp tongue. His works and letters were filled with sarcasm, as well as biting words against his opponents.  He admitted himself in his writing on patience, De Patentia, that it was a virtue which was not present in his life. Tertullian’s tongue, as well as his leaning towards a legalistic lifestyle, eventually drew him into a fringe sect of Christianity called the Monanists. He tragically died in 225 A.D., “separated from full communion with the bishops of the Church whose authority he earlier upheld.”[3]

Tertullian’s demise may seem puzzling, but it is an often quoted fact that over 90% of communication is non-verbal. In our workplaces, schools and churches, how do our facial expressions, intonations and posture convey God’s grace? Is our choice of words even glorifying to God? Oftentimes, how we communicate is actually more important than what we communicate. Let’s ask for grace in our communication today.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, it’s so hard to control my tongue and my expressions. I often find myself saying things that I later regret or in ways that are not glorifying to You. Season my speech with Your grace and humility; help me to be a light to my community and to the world in this way. In Your Name I pray.  Amen.

[1] Olson, Roger. The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform.

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_author/14/Tertullian.html

Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 40

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Lunch Break Study

Read James 3:2, 6, 9-10: We all stumble in many ways.  Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. . . . 6 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.  9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

James 1:19b: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

Questions to Consider

  1. What warning jumps out from this passage?
  2. What is one thing that we do which causes this problem to reoccur?
  3. What can we do to avoid this problem?

Notes

  1. Among the many things we do wrong that keeps us from being perfect, on the top of that list is unwise and foolish words which can cause tremendous damage in all aspects of our lives. I think all of us can attest to that.
  2. We are not quick to listen; rather, we are eager to speak without having heard the other person fully or having considered a reasonable response.
  3. James 1:19 should be heeded. Also, if you prefer to communicate through e-mail, make sure to re-read the content before sending it. I think it is a good way to share your thoughts because it gives you time to think about your response.  I have noticed that the final version is always kinder and gentler than the first one.

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Evening Reflection

As you look back to this day, how did you use your words?  Did anyone get encouraged?  Oops, maybe the opposite is the case.  Let’s do better by, first, offering up praise and prayer unto the Lord.  That’s always a good place to start: using our tongues to bless the Lord.  May the Lord bless you with a good rest!16

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