Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Power of Words”
James 3.8-12 (NASB)
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
As a new father, I am constantly reminded that I am not in control. Take for instance a simple diaper change: You have everything you need—the changing pad, the organic, unscented baby wipes, a fresh diaper, and a pair of clean hands. You’ve done this a hundred times by now. And while you remove the old diaper, dispose of it, and turn back to put on the fresh diaper, what happens? Your little one decides that she needs to pee… right now. No rhyme. No reason. Just because.
It’s not uncommon for us to experience these reminders that we are not in control. Specifically when it comes to our words, how many times have we come out of a conversation or dispute, thinking to ourselves, “Why did I just say that?” As we continue to reflect on the power of words, James reminds us that no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
The general sentiment from yesterday’s QT was how our words can negatively affect others. But as we read in verses 9-12, we are also reminded of the potential our words have to bring life and blessing to God and to others. Yes, we can curse others with our words, but also, we can bless God; our mouths can be the source of both blessings and curses. So how do we keep away from cursing and fight for blessing?
James writes that no one can tame the tongue, that is, if left to themselves. James is full of practical words, but the practice can never be taken apart from the faith. For James, everything begins with the Law of Liberty, the righteousness given to us because of Christ’s fulfillment of the law. And although we alone cannot tame the tongue, because of Christ, our tongue can be tamed.
We cannot tame the tongue, but Christ can master us. And when He is our Master, His Spirit tames even the ficklest parts of our being—such as our tongue. And when this happens, our tongues can be used to truly glorify God and bless those around us.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, we praise You for You have the words of life. And we take this moment to pause and reflect upon the words that we speak—to ourselves and to those around us. We repent not only for the words that were spoken, but we repent for our lack of mindfulness of those words. Purify our hearts so that the words that overflow may reflect Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 8
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 12:33-37: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Questions to Consider
- What is the relationship Jesus is drawing in this passage between the tree/fruit and person/words?
- Based on this relationship, what needs to change? How might this differ from how we normally approach on what needs to change in our speech?
- In light of this passage, how might your prayer change when it comes to your words?
- Jesus teaches that just as a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, an evil person cannot speak what is good, for words are the fruit of the heart.
- For someone’s speech to change, the heart needs to be transformed. We may often think that we just need to change the way we speak, but that is simply addressing the fruit of a bad tree; what really needs to change is the heart.
- Personal response. Welcome the Holy Spirit to continue to transform your heart so that the fruit (words, deeds, thoughts, etc) may reflect His Spirit.
Take some time to think about your day and the words that you spoke. How might this be a reflection of the condition of your heart? Ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit so that your heart may be renewed. Keep track of how that might change your words and thoughts tomorrow.