REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 8, 2013. He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Power of Tongue”
Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, 13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.
As New Testament Christians brought up on the concepts of God’s grace and love, it is sometimes difficult for us to understand what it means to fear the Lord. I remember the very first time I shared my testimony, I said something like this: “How can I fear God when I know that He loves me!”
We are not meant to be afraid of God, but rather God should inspire reverential awe: a fervent desire to live according to his will and pleasure. Reverential awe affects every part of the way we live, and according to the Psalmist, one clear manifestation of this fear is how we use our tongues and our lips. In other words, the words we speak. We know this instinctively: there are words that we would never use in front of our parents. How much more so should the words we speak give honor to God who is always with us!
We give glory to God when we praise him with words of reverence and praise. But we also give glory to God when we avoid speaking words that bring him disgrace.
Is our reverential awe for God evident in the ways we use our words? Today, let us commit to considering every word through the filter of worship before we speak. Ask the Holy Spirit for help so that we can fear God with our lips.
Prayer: Father, help me to understand once again how mighty and incredible you are. Help me to remember that you are always with me! May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 28
Lunch Break Study
Read James 3:3-11 (NIV): We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 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. 5 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. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
Questions to Consider
- Why does James compare our tongues to the bits put into mouths of horses or the rudder of a ship (vv2-6)? In what way is the “tongue also…a fire”?
- What does James mean that “no man can tame the tongue” (v8)? Does this mean we have no hope to follow James’s instructions?
- What is James’s concern in verses 9-11? If it appears as though “fresh water and salt water is flowing from the same spring”, then what does that signify (v11)?
- The tongue is a very small thing, and yet like a bit which controls the movements of a horse, or a rudder, which controls the direction of a large ship, the tongue is the key to controlled living. James claims that a person who is able to control his tongue is “able to keep his whole body in check.” Winning this battle is the key to winning many of our spiritual battles. How so? The tongue is much more than what we say aloud. We cannot think without formulating thoughts into words. We cannot resent without fueling the fires of resentment in words addressed to ourselves. We cannot feel sorry for ourselves without listening to the self-pitying voice. The tongue enflames our passions and lusts. Words have the potential for destruction. Churches have split because of words spoken, accusations voiced. Nations have been divided because of words. In sum, the tongue is much more than the evidence of spiritual maturity; it is also the means toward it.
- When James says that the tongue can never be tamed, he means that we can never take our tongues for granted. We have to always be on our guard. At the same time, James says that “no human-being” can tame the tongue. However, the Holy Spirit can!
- James is concerned that with our tongues, we praise God but also curse people who bear the image of God. He compares this to fresh water and salt water coming from the same source. There is something very wrong happening!
Allow me to share a few more thoughts on what comes out of our tongues.
The tongue is such a small thing, and yet, it is an important key to Godly living. This means much more than simply avoiding speaking evil or praising God (both of which are important). When we control our tongues, we begin to discipline our minds and hearts so that we can give God praise with the totality of our being. With our tongues, we are also able to give encouragement and love to bearers of the image of God.
How did you do with controlling your tongue today? Did you have any conversations that you regret? Submit those conversations to God’s grace and ask for his help in future conversations.