Week 4 Wednesday
- James 3:1–12
- Matthew 15:1–11
- Psalm 8:1–9
Questions to Consider
- When have you said something you would rather not have spoken?
- What are the consequences of speaking profanity and other words of impurity?
- How do we tame the tongue?
- How does Jesus help us speak words that are pure and holy?
Plan of Action
- Compliment someone today. Make sure it is sincere.
- Sing a song of praise. Read a psalm of praise. Psalm 8 is a good place to start.
- Eliminate any words from your vocabulary that even hint towards taking the name of God in vain.
Do you remember the Smurfs? The Smurfs had a very limited vocabulary. They would smurf every word. They would smurf this and smurf that. Everything was smuf-tastic. Humans have done much the same thing as the Smurfs, but instead of using the word “smurf,” humans use words of profanity.
The Wolf of Wall Street set a record for profanity for a US feature film. This movie used a certain profane word 506 times in a span of 180 minutes. The scary thing is that this is not all that surprising when we consider the landscape. Profanity has become a common form of speech. As a father of young children I am reluctant to take my children to professional sporting events. Even on trips to the local supermarket, you are not sure what you might hear.
But before we are quick to point the finger at others around us, we must be sure to tame our own tongue. In the Ten Commandments we are told not to take the name of the Lord our God in vain. Yet, I often hear Christians say, “Oh my God” in very flippant ways. We need to be careful about the context in which we call on God and to hold his name in high regard.
We strive to use God’s name in a context of worship. In the Old Testament God was named Yahweh. God’s people so revered the name that it was a name that went unspoken. Instead of using the name Yahweh, they would call him Adonai. Adonai is translated “the Lord.” That is why in many Bible translations you will often see “the Lord” written with small capital letters like this: THE LORD. We would do well to hold God’s name in a similar regard.
The Bible says:
With it (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:1 (ESV)
Today we strive to tame our tongues. We seek to use our words to be a blessing rather than a curse. This is about more than just purity of speech. This involves the words we speak about others and towards others. These destructive patterns of speech include:
- Gossip – is described in Proverbs 18:8 as delicious morsels that go down in the inner part of the body.
- Innuendo – A close cousin of gossip; to infer something about someone without actually saying it.
- Flattery – This is saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind their back.
- Criticism – A favorite among Christians, to make us feel good about ourselves.
- Diminishment – A close cousin to criticism, this is when we continually trivialize, minimize, and find fault in another person, effectively demoralizing them.
Words have immense power, more than we realize. James 3:4 likens the tongue to the rudder of a ship, which although small, has the power to turn the ship in any direction. In the previous verse (James 3:4), the tongue is likened to a bit in the mouth of a horse. With the bit in the mouth of the horse, even a 100 pound human can control a 600 pound animal. The point is that our words have power.
As we ponder the sacrifice of Jesus this Lenten season, we realize his name means everything. May our lips speak words which exalt him and build up others.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. Psalm 51:15 (ESV)