Saturday, September 19, 2015

//such a little member//

My dad asked me to write a devotional for him to teach at a men's supper tonight, so I thought I'd share it here too...

Passage in James about bridling the tongue

Christians today- the continuous cycle and progression of 'acceptable speech' and how it disintegrates over time.

Genesis- the temptation with words, the excuse of Adam and the immediate problem of sin through speech stemming from the fall.

(Those were the original, basic themes my dad gave me to write on, in my wording)

James 3:1-12
 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (James is warning those who would become teachers- you have to be even more careful what you say.)

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (If a man-the word here is actually specifically male- can control his tongue, he will have the self-control he needs to control the rest of his body and habits.)

3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. (A bit in a horses mouth, although small in comparison to such a large animal, nonetheless has the ability to steer it completely, especially if the horse is well trained and obedient to it's master.)

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. (Again, even though a ship can be extremely vast, it is steered by a helm that is a fraction of it's own size, under the direction of the captain.)

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!(Just like these seemingly small items, the tongue is small in comparison even to just one human body. But it's effects are huge. It has the power through words to start off matters of importance that are far greater than it's own being. Like a little match can start a wild fire if used carelessly, so too is our tongue.)

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.(In just the tongue can be contained all the sinfulness known to man. You can talk about sin without doing it, and in this harmful conversation your mind and whole body is defiled. Satan can and does use our human tongue to set in motion his plots, if we aren't being careful to practice and train our words and thoughts in Godly directions.)

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: (Animals can be tamed through mans skill, but-)

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (Not the tongue. Man alone cannot control that little thing, it seemingly has a mind of it's own!! And it strikes out to others like a snake, poisoning them with our anger, or our sinful ideas, or just our foolishness.)

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (We often use our tongues to practice out our own hypocrisy and deceit)

10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (Speaking about God as though we are saintly and then cursing and speaking badly of other humans, fellow image bearers of the very God we claim to bless! I know I(Nina) am personally very guilty of this...)

11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (So what does it say when our words are mainly bitter, except maybe on a Sunday at church or to a friend we meet?)

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (It shows exactly what is in the heart, from whence or words and thoughts spring. Sins of the tongue are the outflowing of sinful heart attitudes, and this is why God is so concerned. He wants us to think about what we are saying because when we do, we will have to evaluate where these words are coming from. He ultimately wants to consider our hearts and where they are in first: relation to him and second: relation to others, which is really just a facet of the first point. How we treat others says worlds about how we really, deep down, view our God.)

Ecclesiastes 10:12-13
The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious;but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.

When we are not practicing bridling our tongue, our habits drag us farther and farther along the sinful path. At the beginning our words may just(seem to)be foolishness, but in the end they produce madness if we don't correct them! And not just madness for us, the speaker, personally- it effects many, many others and though it seems incredible, one foolish speaker combined with other foolish speakers, on and on, ultimately effects all people!

 One man's words plant ideas in another mans mind, he in turn proclaims them until many other people are indoctrinated with lies started by one little tongue. As a side note, our tongues are really always bridled. If we don't have them under control, Satan is only too happy to take the reins and use us. Scary.

Think about the very beginning- The serpents false tongue, used by Satan, Eve's lack of discernment, listening to his lie and then spreading the lie to her husband, and finally Adam's disobedience, brought about the downfall of all humanity. And then Adam used his tongue in sin for the first time-

Genisis 3:12- And the man said, The woman who though gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

He blamed Eve. His words to God were to shift the culpability to another.

Genisis 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this though hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Eve, too, shifts blame to the serpent, whose deceitful words did in fact start the whole chain. God punishes the serpent, Eve, and then Adam. Note that in the passage (Genesis 3:17) Adam is specifically called out for hearkening to the foolish words of his wife, words of devastating consequence.

And so it began. The cycle of words and their effects. From the fall, words immediately became predominantly sinful, stemming from hearts now affected by sin. We see it in our own lives- how ideas start with some speaker and then eventually become established and looked at as truth. Of course not all ideas spread this way are bad, because obviously not all words are bad. It goes both ways. However, falsehood seems to spread much more easily than truth.

But thankfully, the Word came and dwelt among us, and gives us the power to use our tongues to proclaim him. We can use each of our tongues for good or evil- to show who we really serve. To be honest this is scary. How often are our tongues revealing that our focus is hardly on God at all? Way too often in my life, and I suspect in yours too.

So what are you kindling with your tongue? Is it bridled to God's words or is it steering you way off course? It's a little member, but small things can cause the hugest effects, seemingly far out of proportion to the size of what generated them.

Watch your words. Put that unruly tongue under God's will and get out there with confidence! Knowing that if bad words can start a fire of widespread destruction, God's words spoken by obedient servants can start a whole different kind of fire- the Spirit filled fire of revival and salvation.

(I know that I need work in this area. or should I say further work? I've been working on it for years and I most likely will have to continue working on it for as many more. Anyways I enjoyed writing this and was glad to help my dad, although it made me a little nervous that it would be presented before a group! And it's something I want to try to make a point to re-read and apply. I hope you enjoy it too.)

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