James wrote a no-nonsense letter to Christians. Among the many significant issues he addressed:
- If you need wisdom, ask believing, trusting, and expecting God will answer.
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
- Treat people with respect, mercy, and grace. Show favoritism at your peril.
- Show your faith by your actions. Talk is cheap.
- Resist the devil. Draw close to God.
He also warned us about the power of the tongue. How many times have we wished we could recall something we said or how we said it? The tongue can speak blessing or curse, can encourage or deflate, can build up or destroy.
How do you control your tongue? How do you govern your speech? After James described all the damage the tongue can cause, he wrote: “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth” (3:13).
Simple, right? I wish. I’m fairly confident that I am not the only one who struggles with living “a steady life of goodness.” I know I need to submit myself to His lordship every day, many times during the day. It isn’t just the words out of my mouth; it’s the condition of my heart. Some days my attitude just stinks. James urged us to come clean about our failings. He encouraged us to pray, to have others pray for us.
His letter is not easy to read or apply, but he spoke the truth. He opened his message in a hopeful tone, claiming that trouble can be turned into triumph. You have heard people say that 10% of life is about our challenges and 90% is about how we respond to them. James might say it another way: “Consider it joy when you face trials. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything” (1:2-4).
So, Lord, we need help controlling our hearts and our mouths. Grow us up in You!
Here’s a bonus – things you shouldn’t say if pulled over by the police:
- “Aren’t you the guy from the Village People?”
- “I thought you had to be in relatively good condition to be a police officer.”
- When the officer says, “Your eyes look red. Have you been drinking?” You probably shouldn’t say, “Your eyes look glazed. Have you been eating donuts?”