In James 3, God repeats the classic parental command and makes it very clear that He’s serious. Yes, He says here that no one can tame the tongue, but the context of the chapter makes it clear that He expects us to try.
Luke 6:45 tells us that what comes out of our mouths reveals what is really in our hearts. We can say it isn’t so, but where else would the words come from?
If I’m truly walking in the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love that God desires from me, if that’s what fills my heart, then the words that come out of my mouth will be words of love. I won’t be calling another driver an idiot (or worse). I won’t be bad mouthing the mother who isn’t controlling her screaming child.
I won’t be, as James puts it, cursing a person who was made in God’s very image. And, whether we want to admit it or not, EVERY man was made in God’s very image, even the one whose views don’t correspond with our own.
If I do catch my mouth saying things it shouldn’t (or my fingers typing things they ought not) it’s time for a heart check.
A seed has an innate command to grow and, all things being equal, when it is planted it will obey that command. I’ve been thanking God for that fact this morning.
I’ve always thought I was raised serving God, but in reality I wasn’t, or not like one might think. When I was very young, we were in church, and seeds were planted. Then, for maybe a year or so while I was in junior high, we were in church again and more seeds were planted. And where regular church attendance is concerned that was it.
But seeds were still being planted. They may have been few, during conversations with my parents and grandparents, during that one week spent in Vacation Bible School, during Sunday morning Christian cartoons…. But they were being planted, and they grew, and they bore fruit, and I am where I am today.
So today I’ve been thanking God for each and every one of those seeds that were planted in my life. I’ve also been thanking Him for those seeds I’ve had the honor of planting in others’ lives.
Maybe I only managed to get one seed in the ground, one word about the love of God settled into someone’s heart during a brief conversation. I’ve been reminded today that even that one word can be enough.
Never discount the power of the words you get to plant as you speak into others’ lives, the power of your actions as you show God’s love. Even one seed can produce much fruit.
I have a beautiful cross that I never take off. It is my constant reminder of everything Jesus has done in my life.
It is also a slap in the devil’s face.
Think about it. The cross was the most ghastly, abhorrent, abominable thing imaginable. If you were hung on a cross, you were a despicable human being worthy of the greatest contempt.
Cross = BAD
Now we see the cross as a beautiful thing. Even many who don’t believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ often wear it as decoration because it is beautiful. Imagine what a headache that constant reminder must give the devil.
But this is exactly what Jesus does. While He lived, He specialized in making bad things beautiful. Whether He was healing lepers, delivering a woman from being stoned, returning dead children to their parents…
And He does the same today. It makes no difference to Him that you’ve been bad. He doesn’t care what you’ve done. He cares about you letting Him do what only He can do – turning your life from bad to beautiful.
Have you ever really thought about Jesus, specifically about His emotional state, in Matthew 14:13-21?
He’d just learned that John the Baptist, His relative, the first one to recognize Jesus (in his mother’s womb), the one who prepared the way for Him, the one who baptized Him and announced to the people that He was The One they’d been waiting for, had been murdered, beheaded. Jesus was divine, but He was also human, and His human heart had to be torn.
So He set out to go to the desert to be alone. To mourn, perhaps? To talk to His heavenly Father about it? Who knows? But the very fact that He went shows that He had a need. However…
The people followed Him, and He chose their needs over His own. Honestly, He had every right to take some time off, to receive comfort for a while. But that’s not what happened.
If you’re not familiar with Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, I encourage you to pick it up. It explains the five primary ways in which we show love to others (and, consequently, expect/need them to show love to us). It is a powerful tool in helping us learn to relate to and even minister to others.
A project at work (I’m a church secretary) has had me looking at the love languages again. I’ve known what my love language is for years, but have just had a revelation about it that rocked my world.
In my relationships with others, all others, I can look at my instinctive interactions with them in respect to my love language and get a very clear picture of how much I love them.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s been humbling. In less than 24 hours I’ve faced some pretty hard truths as I’ve realized there are certain groups of people around whom my love language shows up regularly, and a few others (with whom I’m very close) around whom I exhibit more selfishness than love.
So the revelation is this: My love language can act as a love thermometer. As I walk in love with others, I instinctively offer love in my own language. If I know their love language, I may intentionally offer love in theirs too, but mine will still be evident. If I don’t offer that love, I don’t love enough.
And THAT shows me where I have work to do in my own heart.
At church tonight, several people shared their favorite Christmas memories. Of course such things make me think, and I had an epiphany.
My two favorite memories are about getting “nothing.”
I don’t mean that literally, but close. The first was the Christmas after my mother left an abusive marriage. We had so little money that we had no Christmas decorations. On Christmas Eve, after my sister and I went to bed, Mother went to the tree lot and bought a little white-painted stick for next to nothing. Then she laid out our two small gifts each as if they’d come from Santa.
My dismay when I saw the “tree” on Christmas morning probably hurt Mother’s feelings, but the love I felt… We may not have gotten much, but we were grateful for what we got and were even more thankful for the fact that we were safe, secure, and together in our own home.
The other memory… I think I mentioned it here at some point. My favorite place to be, Christmas or not, was my grandparents’ home. They weren’t rich, but they made each of us feel like we were their favorite and always chose gifts they felt we would appreciate. That year my gifts were a pair of socks and a plastic dime store nativity scene snow globe. It spoke love to me, and still does today even though it was destroyed years ago.
As parents, we so often feel the need to produce for our children. Maybe, instead, we should take time to look at the memories that mean the most to us. I honestly remember very few gifts from my 58 Christmases, but I remember a skirt, a piece of candy, and a plastic snow globe – because they spoke of love.
I love succulents! They are amazing in so many ways; one of my favorites is their ability to suck up water when it rains and store it for use during dry seasons.
I want to be like that! I want to stay full of the Holy Spirit, full of the Word of God, and full of love so that dry seasons, times of trials and troubles, don’t catch me unprepared. Yes, I may take a beating and look less than my best in the midst of the battle, but when it’s over I’ll still be standing!