James, the half-brother of Jesus and well-known author of a book in the Bible (inspired by God), took it upon himself to address the issue of ‘taming the tongue’ amongst fellow Christians.
The scripture states, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers (and sisters), this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:9-12
Allow me to provide you with an ecological example to better understand this passage.
A spring is defined as any natural source where water flows to the surface of the earth from underground. As the water travels through the underground rocks, trace minerals are dissolved into the solution, resulting in fresh spring water. Often this is bottled up and sold for profit all around the world.
I’ve never seen salt water bottled up with the intent of quenching one’s thirst.
How about you?
I want fresh water. I’m not talking about a bottle of delicious Evian here. I’m talking about words that refresh my soul and the souls of others.
It’s interesting what we can learn from the environment we live in. Just as the water of a spring bubbles up from deep within the ground, so do the words of our mouths overflow from the depths of our hearts.
Here’s my interpretation of the scripture referenced above:
Our mouths are compared to a spring that either sings praises to our King (fresh water) or curses men that are made in His likeness (salt water). James is pushing the point that, just as a spring can’t produce both salt and fresh water, neither should our mouths produce a contradictory outflow.
I’m not sure about you, but this really gets me thinking.
As much as I’d like to pretend my mouth renders nothing more than praises to Jesus and words of encouragement to myself and others all day long, this is not the reality of my life.
What exactly does the Word mean by not cursing others? Because my mind instantly goes to the idea of lashing out profane words in contempt or frustration to another. And I’m not sure that’s what the Lord is talking about here.
According to Webster, the word cursing is defined as a calling down of evil or harm upon one; or to criticize, denounce or condemn another.
Let’s be real here.
Is it okay for us to say things (even if we’re joking) about people (when they are present or absent) that may otherwise hurt their feelings?
I can honestly say I have done this countless times over the years, and I can reassure you this behavior is far from healthy. It produces nothing but salt water that dries up the spring. And it cultivates death in our lives.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
Let’s take a look at what the Lord has to say about this issue of cursing.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
It’s important that we keep our mouths from speaking degrading things about anyone, including ourselves. Instead, we need to build others up as into the image of Christ, encouraging them to be the men and women God intends them to be.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
Abstain from conversations and jokes that insult and disrespect others, so that we can keep our hearts safe and remain hopeful by focusing on the good in others.
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” Philippians 2:3
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
It’s very wise to avoid lashing out in anger at people, no matter how upset we may feel.
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” Colossians 3:8
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
Allow the words you speak to carry sustenance so they may positively impact others around you, leading them to the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
May the abounding grace of Jesus Christ cause the spring of our hearts to overflow with words that refresh the soul.
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