Are You Naughty or Nice? A Lesson on How We Are to Speak

Thanksgiving is now over and everyone is stepping up to quickly decorate for the next big holiday:  Christmas.  Yes, most of us have Christmas on the mind and many have had it in the back of their mind since the first leaf fell in early Fall.  As I sip on my eggnog (a little early perhaps), I stop to mull this over for a moment or two.  After much thought, I ask each of you where you fall on the list?  Are you naughty or nice?


Me?  I have been going back and forth since my childhood and I would venture to say that during my childhood and early adulthood, I had landed mostly on the naughty side.  The culprit for this was my tongue.  Yes, I often paid the price by liberally using this powerful tool without reading the instructions.  I also have to admit this was a tool of which I had little or no control over even though I am the possessor.  I admit that even women, such as me, can become susceptible to not reading the instructions before operating such a tool as the tongue.  Yes, it is not only the men who fail to read the directions.  Sadly, I admit my guilt and irresponsibility.


The lesson I want to concentrate on today is that we all are equipped with a power tool that can range from 0-100 in a matter of seconds.  It is a tool that needs to be not only understood, but constantly maintained so as not to become “out of control”, but rather run smoothly, and steadfastly in obedience.


According to James 3 the determining factor of spiritual maturity is the ability to control our tongue.  He states this in James 3:2 when he says:  “All of us do many wrong things.  But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body.” Our tongues though small are very powerful and can cause much damage.  They are equipped to either build someone up or tear them down.  They can speak the truth or spread lies.  They can be used to humble ourselves or to brag about our supposed accomplishments.  Indeed the tongue is a power tool that needs constant attention whenever it is being used.  We will learn that it not only needs to be maintained but to be turned off when necessary; thus used more efficiently.


Our instruction manual which is the Holy Bible tells us how to use this power tool.  Many fail to read the manual and become acquainted with the proper instructions, and as a result, many lose control over this tool and damage is caused.  Unfortunately that damage is usually irreversible and may be irreparable.  This is why it is so important to always read the instructions or directions and then follow them.


In James 3:6 we get a better description and are warned what the tongue is capable of:  “The tongue is like a spark.  It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body and sets a person’s entire life on fire with flames that come from hell itself.” One of the smallest parts of our body can actually destroy the whole body if this tool is used ineffectively or foolishly.


Warnings are issued and meant to be heeded.  They are the flashing yellow lights we see that tell us to slow down and proceed carefully.  Some people obey and do so, but many feel they can run through this light since it is not considered strictly forbidden and they justify using it whenever they feel necessary regardless of the warning issued.  When we gloss over the directions, decide not to apply such knowledge or take such good advice, we then are responsible for whatever comes out of that poor decision.  It is here that we lack wisdom and that is sad because we so desperately need wisdom in order to navigate throughout this life.  I cannot speak for anyone else, but my biggest mistakes happened when I assumed I knew what I was doing or when I refused to listen to good sound advice.


How many times have we spoken thoughtlessly and without care about issues in general?  Or when we talk about others or even ourselves?  How about when we speak out of turn and fail to hear what the other side is saying?  We rush in impulsively and speak up without ceasing to hesitate and take a moment to let whatever information we received filter in, digest it, and register.  How many relationships with family and friends and even strangers have escalated or crossed the line because we failed to control our tongue?  How many disputes have started because we jumped to conclusions before getting all of the facts?  How many wars were started because someone’s two cents were tossed in and good counsel was ignored?  Too many to count.


No one wants to invest the time to read this manual and follow its wisdom.  However, we need to open this book. He has taken the time to tell us what He views as important and crucial by putting these warnings in His book.  They are not meant to be overlooked or quickly glossed over, but rather read and studied and then applied.  He knows our tongues and all that they are capable of doing as further pointed out in James 3:13-18.  “Are any of you wise or sensible?  Then show it by living right and being humble and wise in everything you do.  But if your heart is full of bitter jealously and selfishness, don’t brag or lie to cover up the truth.  That kind of wisdom doesn’t come from above.  It is earthy and selfish and comes from the devil himself.  Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things.  But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.  When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.”


It is plain to see when we follow His instruction we know how to curb and rein in our tongue.  We can use this tool to do good not to spread evil.  We can sow peace and bring in a harvest.  I understand that we all have free will and the ability to either listen or act on our own volition as to whether we want to obey His commands or not.  You need to decide where you want to stand and then firmly plant your feet in that camp.  You can be a blessing to many by speaking well of others, and being kind and compassionate.  You can encourage, lift up, be honest and fair, and treat your fellow brother and sister with respect and love, or you can forgo sensibility by over-reacting and speaking in angry, vile language, geared to harm, condescend, dishonor and to deceive others.


Again this is your choice; however, keep this in mind before you speak.  In order to follow Him and do His will and in order to be a Christian, we need to control the negative and speak in the positive towards our fellow man.  Do not muddy the water and go back and forth between the two sides.  God does not have a negative derogatory side.  He is pure and will always remain in love and kindness. Hate does not dwell in God.


When we follow His advice and take His warnings to heart, we will stay on that proverbial nice list and we will be generously rewarded by our being faithful to Him, and observant of His commands.  We will gladly reach out to others in kindness, honesty and love.  Our tongues will be in check and used as necessary as we strive to reach out to others and live in peace.  We will think before we speak and we will seek to speak without anger or hate.  I suggest that we all read the book, make a list of where we are now and where we, as a Christian, should be.  Make that list and check it twice.  Keep it as a daily routine to constantly examine and maintain and then gauge if it is where He wants us to be.  Only then can you definitively know where you stand with Him.  It is more than our being naughty or nice; it is a matter of love and respect to the one who gave us life :  Our Creator.  It is our duty to be obedient and faithful to Him.  God bless everyone.

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