Monday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Posted on October 12, 2020 byunder
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.
This wisdom from above is a very difficult thing for us. The devil and our flesh are very good at tempting us to the wickedness and hypocrisy about which St. James warns us. We bless God, but we also curse our brothers and sisters. We take the righteous wisdom that the Lord teaches us and our vain hearts try to use it to exalt ourselves over others. It is not surprising when people of the world do this. But it happens in the midst of the Church, and this is a tragic thing.
Our self-seeking hearts are already inclined to twist God’s righteousness, but false teachers make it worse. Too often we are encouraged to think that others are “pawns” to be manipulated, rather than seen as brothers and sisters with whom we ought to communicate. But as powerful of a temptation as this is, James shows us the more powerful grace of God’s Word that can help us!
This serious sin is common to all people. But our Lord Jesus Christ overcomes it as much as He has conquered all our transgressions. Apart from His Spirit and the strength that flows only from His Word and Sacraments, we have no hope of overcoming this wickedness that comes so easily from our wicked tongues. But He makes us able to repent, and He calls us back to peace, gentleness, humility, and self-control time and time again. It is a constant struggle, but our Lord Jesus is patient and all-powerful.
Prayer: O God, forasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee, mercifully grant that Thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.