Scripture: James 3:1-12
Key verses: (7-10) 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue — a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
Reflection: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…” The phrase I used to jump rope to always seemed a little off to me. First of all, who wants to think about sticks and stones breaking bones? That sounds like some pretty violent people are on the other end of those weapons. And “words will never hurt me…?” I get the intention: Don’t let what mean little playground bullies say get to you. But I never really believed it was a true statement. Words do hurt. When they are directed at us, or someone we love, we feel their sting. When we direct them at others, we make excuses for why it is deserved.
With our tongues we bless the Lord. But those same tongues curse other children of God, made in God’s image. We hear awful things said about others in person, on TV, in internet comment threads. Even if we are not cursing others with curse words ourselves, we may nod our heads in agreement with others who do. At the very least we have become desensitized to the power of those kinds of words. We have made ourselves feel okay about this, with the same nonchalance as a child skipping rope.
Jesus tells us in Luke 6: “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you …. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” What a different world it would be if we could all live this way instead. Perhaps we can reverse the process of desensitization. Perhaps rather than just watching what we say, we can actively counter hateful words with words of love and blessing. May your words today bless someone else.
Prayer: Lord, guard my tongue today. With it I praise you. Help me also use it to bless all your children. In the name of Christ, who taught us how to love, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].