Sometimes we can cross a relational Rubicon with the words we say to others. Once spoken, words can’t be taken back. They can either offer help and comfort or do damage that feels just as irreversible as Caesar’s march on Rome. James gave us another word picture about words when he said, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).
When we fear we have crossed a Rubicon with someone, we can seek their forgiveness—and God’s (Matthew 5:23–24; 1 John 1:9). But even better is to daily rest in God’s Spirit, hearing Paul’s challenge, “Let your conversation be always full of grace” (Colossians 4:6), so that our words will not only honor our Lord, but lift up and encourage those around us.
Lord, please guard my heart and my words today. May I speak only words that please You and bring health and healing to others.
Read What Do You Do with a Broken Relationship? at discoveryseries.org/q0703.
When words become weapons, our relationships soon become casualties.
The very practical book of James contains much instruction about the wise use of our words:
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (1:19). “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (1:26). “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another” (4:11).
Why is James’s teaching to watch our words crucial for honoring God and people?