I really need to stop reading so much online debate, and just stick with admiring pictures of home decor, cute fluffy animals, and nature in all its glory. It angers me, irritates me, and hurts me to hear the meanness that pours out of people’s hearts through their keyboards. Words mean things and they are important. Words have an impact, whether they are spoken or typed. They can both heal and can slice a person wide open, leaving gaping wounds that cause scars for years to come. Don’t get me wrong, we each have a voice, and we should use it. I believe we are all entitled to our opinions, but we are not entitled to hack away at people, wounding them, if they do not agree. It is not our place.
I’ve always loved words. I am a lover of books, and blogs, and quiet libraries. I enjoyed my speech and debate class as an undergrad in college. I always get a sense of satisfaction when I post a blog, finish a research paper, or while listening to favorite podcasts. I’ve been thinking about words a lot lately, and the third chapter of the book of James hit me hard, especially in today’s tense climate. The way people are acting is nothing new to God. The tongue (and might I add the present day keyboard) has been a problem since the beginning. God help us.
3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The 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.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3 NIV