Monday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: James 3:1-18 (NKJV)
3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.
3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
We learn in the explanation to the first article of the Creed that “God has made me and all my members.” Not just everything we have, but everything we are, is all a gift of God. It should all be used to His glory. We are specifically warned against the misuse of our tongues in the explanation to the Second Commandment: “We should fear and love God so that we do not curse…by His Name.” Cursing is actually more specific than just using bad language. It involves calling down the wrath of God. It is the opposite of a blessing, wherein one calls down the favor of God on someone or something.
St. James admonishes us: our mouths ought not to speak both blessing and cursing. Our Lord even tells us “love your enemies, bless those who curse you” (Matt.5:44). While we were God’s enemies, Christ died for us. God grant us to repent of the careless use of our mouths, faithfully to receive forgiveness through faith in Christ, and to confess that faith by speaking thoughtful and righteous words.
We pray: Lord Jesus Christ, Your holy mouth spoke perfectly. By Your perfect righteousness and death forgive my sins, and help me to honor You with my mouth. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.