We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. – Winston Churchill (June 4th, 1940)
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. – Abraham Lincoln (March 4th, 1865)
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. – Martin Luther (August 28th, 1963)
Each of these speeches are moments in time whereby individuals used the words to speak into the lives of those around them. Whether it was a moment in time to bring forth courage in mankind to step out in the toughest of times for the sake protecting those who need protection. Perhaps it was a time where healing was needed within the life of the nation. Or maybe it was a time where men and women needed to step forth and speak for those who could not. Each of these speeches stirred the hearts of men and women to embrace something that was more than them.
In our lives, unfortunately we are living in a time where the spoken word means very little, yet carries with it a weight that few of us fully grasp. Whether you are talking about twitter, Facebook, or even within the general dialogue of today, we are faced with a world where many just say whatever they feel without ever fully considering the words that leave their tongue or fingers. In Matthew 15:18 our Lord told us that “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” (NIV) We see here in this verse a truth that we all need to understand. A truth that the defiling word of the world today is an overflow of that which lies within. However, it also provides a truth that we as believers, that the words of our lives matter and that they are the fruit of spiritual life that exists within.
So, knowing this, what should our words of our lives say? Do the words of our mouths represent the heart of a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do the words of our lives exemplify the life of a child of God in all occasions and if not how can we reveal the heart of Jesus Christ to those around us.
Scripture – James 3:5-12 (ESV)
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Engaging the Word
James is writing, to the body of the church about a very critical element that unfortunately too often is left unchecked within the body of the church, the taming of the tongue. Too often in the church too many get caught in not maintaining discipline within the life of their communication with those around them. Whether it is a sharing about the lives of those who need our prayers and not our tongues or a desire to seem important because we know what is going on within the life of someone else. Or the tearing down of others for the purpose of looking better than we really are. Or even just the careless nature of our allowing our tongue to get carried away so that we might remain the center of attention. These are just a few ways in which both the world and the church today allow their tongues to set fire to course of life to those around them and their own spiritual lives.
Life & Death
Today we are going to jump to a variety of scriptures that reveal the heart of our Lord as it speaks into where the lives of our tongues should exist. So, beginning in Proverbs we should take a moment to consider the magnitude of words. In Proverbs 18:21 our Lord’s Word says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it eat its fruits”. As we look at this verse it is evident that the words of our lives can bring death to the life that has been given to us. This is never spoken louder than when a person commits suicide over the words that have been spoken over them or written about them. Although this is horrific in and of itself, it speaks to the life that resides within the hearts of each of us. To the same literal death that can be brought to many, so to the death of spiritual and emotional lives of those around us can be brought by a quick or careless tongue. Whether it is a wife or husband that have brought death to aspects of their marriage because they have allowed a careless tongue to get carried away from them. Or a child that lives a life of defeat because their parents have spoken defeat into their lives. Even within our church and as believers to each of us, the words that we use with each other can either tear down or build up. Just a couple of chapters prior in Proverbs we see in Proverbs 12:18 that “the one who is rash with words uses it as a sword whereas the tongue of the wise brings forth healing”. So, knowing this which are we as believers, do our words bring healing to those around us. Do we encourage those around with the words of our lips? Do we bring unity with the overflow of our heart? Do we speak the love of our Lord into impossible moments speaking the healing that only God brings into situations? This truth does not mean that each of us need to agree with sin of this world. It does not mean that we have to be okay with the mediocrity of so much of the Christian world. Even within the process of healing, sometimes there is a need to remove the infection that lies within. As Colossians 4:6 tells us, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”. You see, tt sometimes requires that we cut out that which has caused damage to the situation within the life of the one that we love. However, the truth of God always brings forth healing and never separation. Our love for those that surround us should always bring forth truth and healing that is found in Jesus Christ. As a parent, as a husband, as a friend, as a Pastor, I am called to speak healing into those around me and this sometimes requires removing that which is damaging the life that God has called us to. As a mother, as a sister, as a brother, as a wife, as a husband, as a grandparent do our words bring life to those around us or do they bring death.
The Root of our Tongue
Here in James, he points out that animals can be tamed, but that the tongue remains untamable. This is a truth that many of us fail to realize that it is impossible for us to be able to train the tongue for it is rooted within our hearts and it is only a matter of time and situation before we see the fruit of that which lies within. So knowing this, how can the fruit of our tongue reveal the heart of our Lord in all situations. Maybe for some of you who are here today you might be wanting to argue that it is okay for our tongue to get out of hand in those tough moments. In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus Christ tells us that “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned”. In other words, notice it says in this verse that “every” word will be judged. It doesn’t say just when we are having a good day. It doesn’t say that only when we are at church. It says every word we speak, including the careless ones we utter. So, knowing that first it is impossible to train or tame our tongue and second that we are to be judged by every word that we speak, how can we speak a life that is marked by Christ in every word? The answer, a changed heart, marked, bought and transformed by the heart of Christ. This is how we can live and speak a life that is reveals the heart of Christ in every syllable. As the psalmist tells us in Psalms 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my rock and my redeemer”. It is not just the meditation of our hearts but also the words of our mouths that we are called to find acceptable in the sight of our Lord.
This week I am going to put a listing of scriptures specifically speaking to the words of our mouths within the notes of the sermon on our website. We will also share this through our Facebook page, just in case you don’t actively go to our website. If you are an individual who struggles with the words that you say in those tough moments or perhaps this past week something came out of your mouth that you know would not be defined as acceptable before God, I would invite you to press into these scriptures and focus upon the heart of our Lord within them. Even within this scripture in Psalms 19:14, as I read this verse this past week, I was amazed by the fullness of truth that could found within it. Yes it is evident that our mouth and heart need to be acceptable in the sight of our Lord in every aspect. However, it also provides the truth to how this can be revealed. That it is only through embracing the truth that our Lord is our rock and our redeemer. What does that mean you and me? How is the Lord revealed to you and me as our rock? How does he redeem us today, yesterday and tomorrow? How do we “let” the words of our mouth be found acceptable to God? These are truths that we are called to embrace as believers. These are truths that if experienced as a Christ-like disciple, one day we will stand and truly hear the words “well done, my good and faithful servant”.