LINK: James 3:13-18
What comes out of our mouth comes from what is in our minds. We need to cultivate wisdom and understanding. Very intelligent people can also be very foolish in their behavior. Wisdom is relating truth to everyday life. True wisdom is contrasted to false wisdom:
True Wisdom ---False Wisdom
From above ------From below/earthly (15)
Pure ---------------Sensual/unspiritual (15)
Godly ------------ Demonic (15)
Good behavior ---Evil practice (16)
Humble -----------Arrogant (14)
Peaceable ------- Disorderly, full of turmoil (16)
Yielding ----------Selfish ambition (16)
Compliant ------- Selfish ambition (16)
Merciful ---------- Envious (14,16)
Fruitful ---------- Fruitless (16)
Impartial -------- Partial (James 2)
Sincere ---------- Lies against the truth (14)
I have been in ministries when there was constant strife and turmoil. There was no restraint on the gossiping, back-biting, put-downs, and complaining. There was self-ambition as people jockeyed for positions of prominence, even lying on their way up to the top. There was outright hatred between members (no one would ever admit this, but actions showed differently). Most of the time, I was an observer, glad that God had carved out for me a little side-ministry with people who did not practice these things, but a few times I was sucked into the vortex, and it was horrible.
I have been in other ministries where people have had just as much conflict, but it is seen as normal because we are sinners, and it is handled in a Biblical way by loving confrontation rather than backbiting, gossip, or put-downs. If it is too much to handle privately, there have been confidential coaches and mediators to help the parties find peace. I praise God for these wonderful, healthy situations!
Currently, I am in a ministry like the latter kind. I about fell out of my chair when a woman from my Bible Study called to apologize for something she had said about me in front of the whole group. I had not even taken offense, but she felt convicted by the Lord. This has happened more than once where people have apologized for their words. I am surrounded by very wise men and women. This helps me to grow in wisdom as I see these examples of Christ-likeness.
I have become so used to this fabulous "culture of peace" in my home fellowship that I am thrown off kilter when I am around others who backbite, gossip, put-down, and complain. "Bad company does corrupt good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33), and I need to get better at standing up to it or walking away from it rather than entering into it by my silence and even joining in. One thing I have learned (and keep learning over and over again) is that if people are gossiping and complaining about others, it is just a matter of time before they start talking about you. I continue to learn hard lessons in this area!
So, how do we grow in wisdom so that we can have control of our tongues? Here are some thoughts:
1) Confess your sin in this area (1 John 1:9)
2) Depend upon Jesus Christ who is the "wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30)
3) Saturate your mind in the Word of God because it helps us know wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 119:9, 11)
4) Pray to God for wisdom and self-control (James 1:5; Ephesians 1:17)
5) Resist the devil and put on your armor because the devil does not want you to be wise or self-controlled (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11-17)
6) Discipline your mind and think about what is true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely about others rather than complaining about them (Philippians 4:8)
7) Listen, think and pray before you speak (James 1:19)
8) Surround yourself with wise people and separate yourself from unwise ones who have no self-control (1 Corinthians 15:33; Hebrews 10:24, 25)
9) Ask someone to hold you accountable in the area of your tongue (Proverbs 27:17)
10) Find a "culture of peace" in your home fellowship.
Also, I try to read The Peacemaker by Ken Sande on a regular basis. I am always convicted and reminded of my need to be vigilant in this area rather than becoming "soft" in it!
If you want to see about establishing a culture of peace in your church, check out this website: http://www.peacemaker.net
Lord, I am humbled and convicted by this passage. Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Teach us self-control in our tongue. We ask this in the name of Jesus who is the wisdom of God. Amen.