A letter from Jesus' brother

This devotional is written by Elissa Brady. I am a 23-year-old with an undergraduate in theology and I’m going to be doing a masters in War and Humanitarianism. I have a passion for etymology, DIY, dogs, and art. I started attending St Mary's in November of 2020 (online) and have been trying to come in person ever since Boris allowed us.

James 3:1-12

Taming the Tongue
3 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Reflection

A theme which is evident in James 3:1-12 is the power and authority of language. The first nod towards the nature of human dialects is seen in verses 3-5 were James the Epistle of the power mortal words have as a guiding force over the human 'mind, soul, and hearts' away from the Lord, whereas Godly words can do greater things - calm rough seas and ease stubborn horses. The power of humanity is well observed as seen through our stewardship, or lack, of the Earth. But only God has the authority to and ability to use language to keep us from dethroning ourselves. Language regardless of whether spoken with hands or tongues is a powerful thing, a diverse tool for both good and evil. The sounds or actions we create can fuel prejudice or it can fuel inclusivity. The Lord made us in his image but sadly not His likeness. Humanity continues to see only skin deep instead of soul deep. We should change this through using our words but also our silence. Words do not have to be used continuously, silence allows for listening. When we are using the gift of language or silence, we should apply Paul and Timothy's methodology from Philippians 4:8, our words and thoughts should be true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. What this looks like in real life is not always talking, but taking time to listen, but when one does speak emotionally regulating and thinking 'does this reflect my Godly given soul'? Hence, I pray, that the mind, soul, and heart do not stray from what is good because the good is Godly, I pray for keen listening ears and joyful, true, and praiseworthy words. Amen.

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