Friday, May 26, 2006

James 3:9-12

The chief end of man, to borrow from the Westminster divines, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. One of the easiest ways that we can do that is through our speech. In verse 9 we see that James’ readers “blessed their Lord and Father.” This would have been very typical for the Jew to whom James was writing. They would have been accustomed to pronouncing a blessing on God at the end of every prayer, saying “Blessed be Thou, O God.” The problem that James had is that with the very same tongue that they blessed God they cursed men. If this is not bad enough we must remember that God has created man in His own Image. We see this back, again, in Genesis 1:26 (It is almost as if James had his Bible open to Genesis 1 when he was writing.) In a round about way James is calling this blasphemy. This should be convicting for all of us, because we are all guilty of this hypocrisy. Even the apostle Peter was guilty of this double-minded type of speech. It Matthew 16:16 we read a wonderful pronouncement of Jesus as “the Christ the Son of the Living God” come from the mouth of Peter. We only have to go as far as Matthew 26:69ff to see Peter denying any association with Christ. This should not be this way! We should not be inconsistent in what we say.

James makes one final observation from nature concerning the tongue. The observation is that like produces like. A fresh water spring will not produce salt water; fig tree will not produce olives; nor will a vine produce figs. What is James’ point is saying all of this? When we apply this same principle to the tongue we realize that what comes out of our mouth is what is in our hearts. To use James’ example from verse 9, when we speak hatefully to the people around us it reveals a lack of love for God. In 1 John 4:7-8 we see this same principle at work.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has
been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God,
because God is love.

If we love one another it reveals a heart filled with love for God.

In this final thought James, in a very simple fashion, profoundly sums up this entire section on the tongue. This point is this, from a godly (or to use the words from 1:17 “pure religious”) heart will come godly speech. This is a fitting theme for James to have covered here; particularly in light of the them of 2:14ff.

Isn’t it amazing to think that most of our hateful speech is directed at those with whom we have the closest relationship? We are often hateful, rather than loving, to those who we feel the most comfortable around. This should tell us something! It should tell us that when we are so nice to others it is an act and that our true heart is being revealed when we speak hatefully to those closest to us.
If after studying these verses you think that your speech is ok, you may want to think again. I hope that you realize that God is infinitely good, and deserves our infinite adoration. The funny thing about that is that we cannot do anything that is infinitely good. That means that no matter what we do it is not good enough for God, He deserves better. Even when we do what is right with good motives, God still deserves better. This is what makes the Gospel so great. God made an infinitely good sacrifice available through the death of His Son, Christ Jesus.
Sinful speech can set your life on fire, and wreak havoc that could take years to resolve. If you want to protect yourself from the dangers of evil speech then you must fill your heart with God’s word. When you do this God’s word will overflow from your heart out of your mouth.


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