If I asked you, “What comes to mind when you think of my name?”
What would it stir up?
Was it positive or negative? True or false?
Lately, the Lord has been convicting my heart about my tongue and judgments.
I have been reading through James, and I knew I was approaching the chapter about “taming the tongue.” I was so tempted to skip over it and never look back, but I knew God would convict my heart. So, I braved the chapter.
That was fun…said no one. Ever.
It’s chapter 3 if you wanted to know or if you wanted to avoid it…
I had already felt God moving in my heart about my tongue before reading James 3, and I didn’t want to face it.
I am going to be honest with you. It is a real struggle for me.
Let me tell you why.
I am very insecure, and I have been hurt a lot. Like many of us, I have been the target of cutting words. Kids can be ignorant, teens can be self-absorbed, and adults can be cruel. For whatever reason, I have always felt very different and very unwanted. This was something that I wrestled with constantly. Just ask my mom. She was my constant. She was the one who told me I was beautiful just the way I was, or that people were just speaking from their hurt. It probably had nothing to do with me. She was great, a balm to the hurt, but people’s words still cut deep.
My coping mechanism for being treated this way was to talk about the people that hurt me to the couple of friends I had and to poke at their weaknesses. What started as a way to deal with bullying as a kid/teen morphed into a bad habit as an adult. I wanted to feel better about myself or justify how people were treating me, and I did that with my words.
Does this justify my sin? No.
Does it help you to understand why it’s a struggle for me? Maybe.
Are you judging me right now for my brutal honesty? I hope not…;)
I want to be brave enough to face my sin with vulnerability. In hopes that someone reading this will know they are not alone in whatever they are facing or struggling with. That maybe, in my mess, they can see theirs and have the strength to face it too. This is tough to overcome. For real.
So, I googled the functions of a tongue. It took me on a weird youtube journey. Tongues are interesting and gross all at the same time. I saw too many of them.
Don’t do it y’all.
The tongue weighs about 2.5 ounces. Think about that in regards to your body weight. My tongue is a very small part of my body but a very BIG part of my life. To live without a tongue is to live without taste, talking, singing, and with a great difficulty in digesting food. Trust me. I read WebMD extensively. 😉
The Lord calls the tongue a “small member” and likens it to a great ship’s rudder, the bit in a horse’s mouth, and a small fire that can overtake a great forest. The tongue can be vital and dangerous all at the same time.
Whoa buddy, do I know it.
Recently I was talking to my counselor, and I made a definitive statement about someone. She looked at me with her blue eyes that pierce into my soul and asked, “So, are you their judge?” Um….ouch.
No…no I am not.
Her point in saying that to me was that I have no idea what that person is going through and what has led them to this point. She was absolutely right. I only know what I see, and that is NOT enough to make that kind of snap judgment.
It was hard to hear.
It got me thinking about all the things I have heard about myself from others growing up. Most of them were quick judgments by people who never took the time to know me or what I was going through.
And here I was doing the EXACT. SAME. THING.
The next day in my devotions, I came to Chapter 3 of James. Oh Lord, You have such a way of working those things out. It was perfect timing. My counselor had tilled the ground of my heart, so God’s word was ready to be planted.
James 3: 7-12 –All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it 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. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
God can not do any kind of work through my mouth when it shoots “deadly poison.” My mouth shouldn’t bless the Lord and then curse those He made in his likeness, whether they have hurt me or not. Whether they deserve it or not. Whether I am feeling bad about myself or not.
I asked you at the beginning of this blog what came to mind when you thought of my name. I did this for two reasons.
One, to see if you have negative thoughts associated with me and to ask yourself why? I may never cross your mind, but if I do, what thoughts are connected with my name? and why? Is it true because you experienced it with me? Or is it gossip? I did this with various names and I realized what I thought of were things I have heard other people say. Most of which, I have no idea if it is true or not! That is terrible!
Two, I wanted to know if it was my words that came to mind. I hope it was not the bitterness of my words, but if it was, I am sorry. I ask for your forgiveness if you have heard me say anything negative about anyone. I ask for your help. If you hear it happen again, stop me. Tell me what my counselor did. You are not their judge. You have no idea of their struggle or what they have been through. You do not know what has brought them to where they are or to what they did.
GIVE GRACE, AMANDA.
Let’s give grace today to those around us. Even if you hear that they are talking about you. Even if they treat you terribly. It would be so easy to degrade them with your words or to even listen to others say negative things- I know! But what would it look like if we stopped the cycle of hurt and gossip and offered grace into the hurt? It would definitely halt the pattern of slander. I believe God would be glorified, and He would take care of the injustice you feel.
He says so in Romans…
Romans 12:17-21 –Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let’s trust what God says today. I’m right here with you. Offer it to Him to handle. He PROMISES He will, and you can trust God on his promises. He always keeps them.
It is going to be HARD. I am scared.
My mind is screaming, “NO! I HAVE to defend myself when wrong is spoken of me. People HAVE to KNOW those things aren’t true. I have to say what bad I can about that person so that I can look better.”
But my heart whispers back, “God has it. He knows the truth. He is ALL that matters. He will right the wrongs. He will bring truth to lies. Vengeance is HIS. Not mine.”
Speak Life. Offer Grace. Be kind.
Let’s brave this storm together.
Let’s hold our tongues. We will be better for it. God will be honored in it.
Let’s do this thing.