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Monday, March 12, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 20 ~ Words Matter

Day 20 ~ Words Matter
James 3:7-8 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,  but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  Children will often employ this little rhyme in an effort to stave off mean-spirited words.  Words can hurt.  Insults and put downs have a way of getting into our heads and eating away at us.  We wonder if they are true, if the insult is an accurate assessment of who I am.  Even if it isn't true, what is wrong with me that someone would be driven to use such abusive language towards me?  Words can hurt.

We have tried to take away the impact of words in our culture by suggesting that words no longer mean anything.  They are just sounds. As Madonna once said,  "Today is the last day that I am using words. They've gone out, lost their meaning, don't function anymore... Words are useless, especially sentences. They don't stand for anything. How could they explain how I feel?"  Leaving beside the irony that Madonna's quote comes in the form of sentences, it is worth noting how we try to tear down the importance of words.  Why would that be?

Perhaps it is because, despite what playground rhymes say, words can hurt.  So often the spit out of a poisonous tongue and cause us great harm.  So, in an effort to ease the pain of such deadly poison, we just pretend like those words meant nothing.  We try to make words meaningless.

As much as we try to convince ourselves of this, we know deep down that it isn't true.  Words do matter.  Hurtful words do make a negative impact on us, just as loving words have a positive impact.  James would have us be very careful in how we speak about God and to each other.  He knows the damage words can cause.

Let us keep in mind that there is good reason to emphasize the importance of words.  God Himself is a God who deals with us by means of words, even the Word made flesh.  He is a speaking God who created the world by speaking it into existence, "God said, 'Let there be light'" (Genesis 1:3).  This same speaking God who created the world by His Word has also created faith in your heart by the same forgiving Word.   "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ"  (2 Corinthians 4:6).  When the pastor baptized you and said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," those were not empty words, but promises from God Himself.  His baptismal promise matters.  His Word which declares you righteous on account of Christ matters, so that, no matter what anyone else says, God's word to you in Christ stands forever.   His Word matters.  It is a promise!

Confession:  Forgive me, dear Father, for when my words are not shaped by your word of promise in Jesus Christ.  I have hurt others by what I have said to them or about them.  Forgive me for the sake of Jesus who used his words from the cross to say, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."  Have mercy on me and teach me to use my words to your glory and for the benefit of my neighbors.  AMEN.

Challenge:  Go a whole day without saying something negative about anyone.


Pastor Bob

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