With the same tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men…Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. James 3:9-10
Worship is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities of the disciple. It honors our beloved Lord and looses blessing into our own lives. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, you may remember, that ‘the Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.’ John 4:23
I dare say that our worship on earth, at its best, is less than perfect for perfect worship will be our joy once we are in the presence of God in heaven. Eternally gracious as He is, God accepts even our imperfect worship. However, for the heart that loves God with passion and devotion, there are guidelines for making our worship as honorable to the Lord as possible.
In the verse quoted above, James directs our attention to an important consideration. With the same tongue that we spit out sarcastic or hurtful words to someone, we then turn and ‘worship’ God. Considering everything we have pondered in the past eleven lessons, this one may well be the most important of all.
In writing of praising God and cursing men with the same tongue, James by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, calls us to sit up and take notice.
1. Do we bless the Lord in the morning in our private prayer time and with the same tongue criticize and judge others throughout the day?
2. Do we sing praises to God in our fellowships while holding a grudge towards another?
3. Do we glance at our watches while singing the praises of the Lord, wishing it would end?
4. Do we meet with the Lord in our quiet place with no shame or remorse over the gossip we spread yesterday?
5. Do we express our love for God while outside of church or our place of prayer we easily slip into making critical and judgmental remarks about our fellow disciples?
6. Do we listen to the Pastor’s sermon and apply it to everyone but ourselves?
7. Do we faithfully attend church yet routinely speak critically of the pastor?
8. Do we enter into praise and worship with anger in our hearts towards another so that our lips sing the words but our minds are on revenge or self- defense?
9. Do we thank the Lord for the power of the Blood of Jesus in washing away our guilt while we easily send others on guilt trips?
10. Do we sing our praises while being jealous of the person singing next to you or in the seat in front of you?
James says very simply: ‘this should not be.’ James 3:10
Not only is our worship imperfect in situations such as I have described, but additionally, we grieve the Holy Spirit. ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.’ (Ephesians 4:30)
Before Jesus ascended, He promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to us as our Helper and our Teacher. He would abide with us to remind us of all the Jesus said and He would ‘show us things to come.’ The word ‘grieve’ in Ephesians 4:30 literally means ‘to get your feelings hurt.’ There is a reason why the Holy Spirit is often portrayed as a dove. The dove is a very shy bird that cannot bear tension and dissension. It will fly away quickly. When we grieve the Holy Spirit – which means when we are acting and speaking in ways that do NOT reflect the presence of Jesus within us – we grieve Him and the result is that we are left to ourselves, usually irritable, confused and less than pleasant to be around. Entering into conversations that Jesus would never enter into grieve the Holy Spirit.
James asks: ‘Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?’ James 3:11. Every born again child of God has a well, a spring within their spirit. That well is the Holy Spirit and that which flows from Him is described in Galatians 5 as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, etc. Grieving the Holy Spirit most often happens when we open our mouths and what comes out bears no resemblance to Galatians 5: 22-23.
It is offensive to the Lord – and it should be to us as well – to worship and praise Him, sit under anointed teaching of the Word and enjoy the fellowship of those with like precious faith and than allow words to roll off our tongues that reveal bitterness, anger, jealousy and selfishness.
‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you know how to answer everyone.’ Colossians 4:6
‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.’ I Peter 3:9
Here’s a simple guideline to help us improve in controlling our tongues? Ask your self these four questions before you speak.
N – Is it necessary?
E – Is it liberating? Will it free or bind the listener?
E – Is it inspiring and edifiying?
D – Is it dignifying to the listener? Does it affirm them as a child of God?
Do I N-E-E-D to say this? If it doesn’t meet the criterion, let’s zip our lips.
This series on the Power of Words comes to a close today with this final post on the subject. I pray that it has been an exhortation and encouragement to all of us to grow in the area of tongue control so that when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, He will be able to say to us ‘Well done, My good and faithful servant.’
‘Think on these things.’ Philippians 4:8b