I read something on Facebook yesterday that really bothered me. Someone was calling out someone (although unnamed) and then used a Scripture to give glory to God for the battle(s). I came close to responding, but felt the urging of the Holy Spirit to say nothing, and instead put my thoughts and feelings in the Lord’s hands. Later, I was studying Romans 7 where the apostle Paul agonizes with the immensity of the problem of sin and the intensity of his struggle with it – and I have the same struggle daily. When I listened to a podcast on my way home Dynamite In Your Dentures Part 1 and Part 2, I “got” what had been bothering me. I have done the same thing too many times, and always with bad results.
The text for the podcasts is James 3:1-12. “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6) There have been many times (WAY too many times) that I decided to make my own comment on a post, in a conversation, been witty, made points (even using God’s Word). The truth is when I feel the need to share my opinion, I’m being prideful, thinking my comments are important – and my comments too often are in judgment. During the instances I’m thinking of, I fanned a fire. In some instances, it was just a spark that became a roaring fire because I fanned it. “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” (Prov. 18:2)
Jesus Christ didn’t mince any words about judging others. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:1-3) As I’ve gotten older, I now can’t see up close without reading glasses, but I can see at a distance. I think I’ve been seeing through a judging heart too often in the distance (at others). I need to put on my glasses so that I can see the log in my own eye!
The words we choose can be to advance the kingdom of God by showing our love for one another, or we can allow the fires of hell to come forth from our tongue. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Prov. 18:21) Are we giving the bit to control our tongue to our heavenly Father, or are we allowing the devil to use it for destruction? “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” (James 3:3)
Thankfully, yesterday I heeded the urging of the Holy Spirit. Instead of “speaking” my initial judgment, I listened to what the Holy Spirit wanted to show me. The Holy Spirit didn’t want me to see what someone else is doing or saying and judge it, but instead He showed me the times I’ve gone down that same road and reminded me of the consequences. As Paul wailed, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25a)
Dear Lord, Create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Lord, set up a guard for my mouth and keep watch at the door of my lips. Lord, I want to seek You first and allow my words and actions to glorify You. Direct my path, Lord, and light my path and fill me with Your love to full so that it spills out to others. In Jesus' name, amen.