3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder where the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise 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. 6The 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.
7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives? or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
James 3:1-12 (NIV)
While studying James 3:1-12 in preparation to write this blog, I quickly realized this portion of scripture would probably go in a different direction than I originally anticipated. If I were to write about these scriptures without studying them, I'd share about the dangers of the tongue...that we need to be careful with what we say and how we say it because it could (and does) destroy people. Let's face it, that's an absolute truth I can't argue with because we must be careful with what we say and how we treat people. We ARE indeed accountable.
However, I do think the emphasis in these scriptures is on those who teach. As my friend Rick (see blog "Whoa or Woe") wrote to me, "It seems particularly aimed at teachers though that would never let others off the hook." Teachers or not, we cannot abdicate our responsibility and accountability for the words we say.
Since I too believe these scriptures are aimed at teachers, that is the approach I'm going to take. Today's study is simply an introduction into the topic. We'll take a look at the "why" and the "what" in the next couple blogs. To be brutally honest, it is something that needs to be addressed personally in my own life; for me, this could hurt a little. I do want to be held accountable to the Lord and you...in how I treat others and in how I react to a tense situation. Controlling my tongue is only a small part of what God wants to address here since my attitude towards others plays a major role in how I treat them.
Application of God's Word:
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
Teachers do have a strong influence in the lives of their students whether they are children, teens or adults. I pray you will bravely go on this journey with me as we allow the Holy Spirit to use the Word to penetrate to the core of our spirits. I pray this journey will renew our commitment to teach and guide those in our sphere of influence, and that together we will be able to acknowledge this is a privilege none of us should ever take lightly. I pray this journey will renew within us a passion for those God has led our way and that we will recognize it is an honor to serve them. Let's allow the Holy Spirit to work from within and challenge us, making us more like the Greatest Teacher who ever walked the face of the earth.
Unfortunately, I'm one of those teachers who sometimes engages their mouth without asking their brain or spirit, if it's appropriate. I then find myself cleaning up a big mess or, worse yet, someone else having to clean it up. Another friend, JD, used to say, "Repentance is my friend." We (repentance and I, along with a strong dose of conviction) may be walking hand-in-hand for awhile. This is a very good thing because, as a teacher, I do want to be challenged and held accountable. God is loving and kind, eager to forgive, and able to lead me down the path of righteousness so I don't spew all over folks causing irreparable damage to them with my insensitive words. I do want to honor and respect those I'm called to serve. Want to come along? Are you up to the challenge?