“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body.” James 3:5-6
So how do we control our tongue? For starters, it’s helpful to keep our words to ourselves until we can sort through any raw emotions behind them. In James 1:26 we find that, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless”
Next, we can choose our words wisely. James 3:3, says, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal” .
Once we’ve reined in what we say, we choose words that steer the conversation along an encouraging, uplifting path, building up instead of tearing down.
Last, we praise, not curse. In James 3:9 we discover that, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness”.
In Biblical times cursing was the opposite of blessing, and today we should view our words as carrying the same responsibility. Deep scars from hurtful words may never heal.
Dear Lord, remind us each day to use our tongues to glorify You and encourage others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Imagine a marriage in which the husband dutifully earns a living to pay his family’s bills, takes care of the house and cars and sees that his family has the clothing and other things they need. Yet he has lost all tenderness and passion for his wife. Is this a healthy marital relationship?
Productivity without passion. Just as the partners in a marriage can lose their passion for one another and yet carry on, a similar situation can occur in relationships between believers and God. In fact, the church of Ephesus had fallen into this very trap. Jesus noted that this church had “persevered and … endured hardships for my name” (Revelation 2:3). But, he pointedly added, “you have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).
What about you? When you compare your current relationship with Christ to what it was like when you first began following him, are you just as passionate about knowing him, being with him and worshiping him as you were then? Or do you find yourself busy serving him without bothering to further cultivate your relationship with him?
Sadly, like a marriage without passion, our relationship with God can go through a period during which spiritual passion wanes. We serve the Lord more out of habit or duty than out of a desire to know God more deeply.
Consider this possibility: God might occasionally want us to stop doing for him so that we can concentrate on being with him and recovering the love we had at first. Many dry marriages have been renewed. Dry relationships with the Lord can experience renewed passion and vigor as well. Put your relationship with Christ first, then let your service for him follow as a natural response.
Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4–9; Matthew 7:21–23; Luke 10:38–42; 1 Corinthians 13:1–13
In the community, Meg’s husband is generous and giving and the life of every party. He does favors for everyone and is the first to make a showy donation to a cause. But at home, he’s aloof, demanding, cutting and very controlling. With each new gift he tells my friend, “See how much I love you?” Outwardly, his life looks good, but he misses the mark when it comes to what God requires of him in loving his wife.
The Israelites were also guilty of making showy declarations of love for God, but those gifts were mere bribes. And God abhors such sacrifices. Micah told Israel that God was not impressed or pleased with the offerings of “thousands of rams” and “ten thousand rivers of olive oil” (Micah 6:7).
Instead, what God requires, what he says is good, is to act justly, with fairness and equity; to love mercy and kindness, to be steadfastly dependable, respectful and committed; and to walk humbly with God (see Micah 6:8).
So too in marriage spouses are called to live together sacrificially and with respect (see Ephesians 5:33). We are to “clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). We are to “keep [our] lives free from the love of money and be content with what [we] have” (Hebrews 13:5).
We are to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above [ourselves], not looking to [our] own interests but each of [us] to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3–4).
The good life, according to Micah 6:8, is not diamonds stashed in fuzzy socks; it’s doing what is good.
If you have kids at home, pray for them, read God’s Word with them and rest in knowing God is with them. You are building a firm foundation. You are paving a pathway that will lead them in the direction they should go.
God taught me such a powerful lesson that morning. My role as a parent is to pray for and with my children and to model, to the best of my ability, what it means to be a godly person. I was not perfect and often missed the mark. But when we do those two things, God fills in the rest. I only have them at home to teach, guide and train in God’s Word for a short 18 years. But they are His for all their lives.
Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
Dear Lord, help me to train my children in the way they should go. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, lead me as I lead them. Draw each of us closer to You as we walk together in faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I’ve found that when I say yes to God, a joy fills me and motivates me to be close to Him and to walk in His will. It makes me want to keep asking Him how He can use my life as a mission field, anywhere from my home to my hometown to around the world.
We don’t have to go overseas to do missions work. Opportunities are all around.
Who has God placed in front of you that needs help? Who in your family needs support? Which friend has been struggling with a temptation or a broken heart?
Think about your job, your relationships, and your interactions with others as extraordinary opportunities to serve someone else. When God works through us to meet the needs of others—that’s missions. Let’s turn our everyday life into God’s mission field. I think we’ll be amazed at what He does as we step out of our comfort zone and partner with Him!
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13 (NIV)
Dear Lord, I want You to use me to love and bless someone today. Show me exactly how I can serve Your people, even if it’s in the smallest way. I’m trusting You to move in my heart and in the hearts of those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
God punishes people for their own, personal sin. Nowhere in the Bible do righteous believers pay eternally for their parents’ sins. God clearly states that a son who acts righteously, even though he has a sinful father, “will not die for his father’s sin” (Eze 18:14–20). The law states, ”Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin” (Dt 24:16).
This is not to say, however, that nothing is passed on through the family tree. Sinful patterns of behavior are often passed on to family members. For example, an environment of alcoholism, sexual abuse or violence can scar children for life. But the children will answer to God for their own lives, not for those of their parents.
There are instances in the Bible where children experience the tragic consequences of their parents’ sins. For example, David’s affair with Bathsheba resulted in the death of the son from that union (see 2Sa 12:14,18). Today “crack babies” suffer for their mothers’ behavior of using crack cocaine. Until the addictive cycle is broken, generation after generation will be trapped by sin.
The good news of the gospel is that the cycle can be broken through obedience by faith. Hezekiah, the son of the wicked King Ahaz, broke the cycle when he turned to God. So did Josiah, the son of the tyrant Amon. When children break the pattern set by sinful parents, they can receive God’s blessing. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers power to break sin’s grip on families.
“And I say to you, anyone who acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God, but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.”
Recently, while going through some conflicts with people, I read Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers …”
When I first read this I thought, “If I will just memorize this verse, boom … I will be a peacemaker.” So I did. Big surprise … I wasn’t a peacemaker the next time conflict arose.
I recognized that I needed to have a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a peacemaker, so I dug into the scripture.
If we look back to the original text, we see the word for peace here means harmony, security and rest.
These words that define peace remind me of the things Jesus brings into our lives. Because we follow Him, He gives us the ability to make peace. When we do, He promises we “will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). We can be a representation of the peace He gives.
Some people will go to great lengths to prove themselves right. Pride and arrogance convince them that laying aside differences is a sign of weakness. But if we can catch God’s vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker—to bring harmony, security and rest to a difficult situation—it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict. We can stand confident as children of God.
As we let go of petty stuff, we are peacemakers. When we are the first to say, “I’m sorry,” we give peace. When we talk calmly, rather than yelling, we bring peace to the situation. By learning to give peace the way we receive peace from Jesus, His peace flows through our lives.
Being a peacemaker is challenging and may not come naturally. But may we be reminded today that in every conflict we have the capability to bring resolutions of peace. We can bring harmony, security and rest because Jesus’ death and resurrection gave that to us.