Our scripture this morning is James 3:3-10.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

Do you remember as a child hearing the rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” The sad truth is that our words can hurt others. The apostle James warns us that “the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body” (v. 6). When we say things that hurt others, we disobey God.

We who claim the name of Jesus have a responsibility to uphold God’s word, and to speak to each other in love and peace. Proverbs 8:7 tells us “for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips”. Saying hurtful things against another child of God is not part of His plan.

As a society, we seem to have forgotten this and harsh words fly across many paths of communication. This is not what Jesus taught us! We must consider all our words and insure they reflect the love of God, even when we are required to correct behavior or stand against evil. We are taught “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Loving Lord, help us to curb our tongues and speak only according to Your word. May we be a channel of Your love in all we say and do. Amen.

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