James 3:2 (NLT) Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
I remember as a young child in school learning the technique of “stop, drop and roll” to extinguish a fire. Taught as part of health and safety, a nice fireman dressed in his gear instructed our second grade class on fire awareness. Part of his lesson was what to do if our clothing caught on fire – we were to stop, drop and roll. Consisting of three components as the name suggests, the first step is to stop. Stopping means to cease all movement which may fan the flames or even hamper those coming to one’s aid. Dropping to the ground, lying down and covering the face to avoid further injury. Finally, rolling on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire by depriving it of oxygen. Even wrapping up in a rug if nearby to further put out any flames. I wonder if we might use the same techniques when putting out the fires started with harsh words and misunderstandings. Is it possible that stop, drop and roll might work in such conditions?
James 3:3-6 (NLT) We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, 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.
Recently, I have watched a beautiful friendship completely destroyed by careless words and misunderstanding. Burned to the ground as it spread through two families. I am praying for restoration, repair and rebuilding yet I cannot believe the absolute devastation. How many times to careless conversations, pointless debates or one-sided tirades destroy the beautiful harmony and unity that God has ordained for His People? Churches have literally split, divided and died from gossip, slander and malice among close friends now misaligned by the lie of the enemy who is the Father of Lies. Is it too late for grace? Oh man, I hope not. The Grace of God is always enough but like any other building the institution of relationship takes time to reconstruct. Trust is probably the hardest structure to build and maintain so once it is compromised it takes a committed effort by all to restore. How can something so small do so much damage? Why can’t we control our tongues? Why is our need to be right or defended so strong that pride keeps us from humbling our tongue and limiting our words to what is kind, necessary and true? Lord, help us today to examine our hearts, thoroughly inspect our thoughts, and completely control our tongue to bring glory to Your Great Name.
James 3:7-12 (NLT) People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
The complexity of human nature and the war against our flesh makes the products of our lips sometimes uncertain. Romans 7 talks about the war between flesh and spirit that wages war within us. We want to do what is right and try to but still do what is wrong on a regular basis. The need for constant grace is clearly definitive in the simple truth that humans are imperfect and our weakness is sin. We can change our habits. We can modify our routine. We can educate our opinion. Yet in the final stages of release our words are on a mission – to give life or pronounce death. (Proverbs 18:21) To be imitators of God and follow the example of Jesus – there will be times to be silent. To stop talking, drop to our knees in humility and roll out the flames set by the harsh words, judgment or gossip of another. Jesus was completely innocent yet in the midst of His Accusers – our Savior and Lord set forth an example that we are to learn from – He said nothing. (Matthew 27:11-14; Acts 8:32) This fulfilled the prophecy about our Lord and did not further fuel arguments. It would not hinder His Walk to the Cross. In order to fulfill God’s Destiny for our life and walk in His Ways, sometimes that means walking away from a fight right to preserve the relationship or to say, “I’m sorry” even when the offense was against you. The point is to continue to follow Jesus and not be detoured by dysfunction by the lie of the enemy. We need each other despite what the liar has said.
Psalm 34:12-14 (NLT) Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
Perhaps these verses might be labeled the “stop, drop and roll” instructions when it comes to our words. Do you want to live a long and prosperous life? I dare say no one reading this will say, “No” or “I’ll pass” but rather every day it is our goal to live in the promises and prosperity set forth in God’s Word according to the blessings prescribed for us. The scripture is clear. STOP your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Pretty straight forward but not always easy. It is important to think about what we say and how we say it. Being right doesn’t always result in righteousness. It is up to us to condition our heart and soften it with God’s Word. This will change how we think and respond to other people. We must be quick to forgive and stop the progression of bitterness within us that turns into malicious conversation. DROP – Turn away from evil and do good. Repentance is essential in transforming our communication with others. Sometimes we can do nothing more than make things right with the Lord and pray for a severed relationship until the other party softens and accepts you again. Humility brings agreement to a growing, prospering and thriving relationship. As harmony is established and unity maintained the Lord blesses both parties and creates a living flow between them. Is it really worth limiting our godly potential to allow separation to build walls that block His Prosperity in our heart and life? I don’t think so. Finally, ROLL – grace teaches us how to let things roll off of us like water off a duck’s back. We must learn to overlook the careless conversation and decide to love them anyway. We must be the one to extinguish the passionate flames of fear and insecurity that feed our pride. We give power to the words of others in our life and the same words meant to harm us can free us when grace is applied and forgiveness given or received. I want the power of God to be a daily experience all around me. I want love as strong as death to overtake me and filter into every relationship established in my life. To search for peace and maintain it means giving up my way to Christ and others daily. It doesn’t really matter if they hurt my feelings or break my heart. I am called to love them. I am ordained to live in harmony with all my brothers and sisters not just the ones of my choosing.
James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
I am grieved literally sad in my spirit over the friendship recently destroyed by the enemy. I believe in the Resurrection Power of God that gives new life. As I pray for this friendship, maybe there is a family member or friend that you know of where there is distance in what was a close bond. The enemy hates relationships. He hates when people love each other. Daily satan sows seeds of offense and hurt hoping someone will take hold of them. It is up to you and me plant seeds of peace and reap the harvest of righteousness. It will take effort. You cannot sit idly by when it comes to the words used or conversation allowed. We must take the burden of repentance and give grace even when it is not deserved. There is seldom a disagreement where both parties did not hold their ground. Reconciliation takes both sides coming together as one. Our common ground is Jesus Christ. His Grace is enough for me today and you, too. We can live in love with others because His Love completes us. People are not perfect, but they are not the problem either. In fact, they are the key to a prospering, productive and long life. Praying for the full restoration of my broken friendship today. Can I join with you in doing the same? Let’s pray for protection over our relationships today and that the Spirit of God will tame our tongue.
Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT) A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.