James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
One of the greatest victories that can be won by the Christian, is that of remaining calm when angry words are hurled at us. When hurtful sentiments are uttered, or when false accusations are made, we should never react or retaliate with hasty, angry words, but should rather maintain a calm resilient spirit, trusting in the One who sees and knows all. This is what is embodied in our passage for today. The apostle James, in commenting on the unruly nature of the tongue, affirms that blessings and curses often proceed out of the same mouth. We praise God in the morning and then we curse at the driver who cut us off on the highway. we argue with our spouses and then say "grace before meals". As Christians, we need to be kept by the power of God constantly, lest we trip and blow a fuse, thereby bringing the cause of God into reproach.
It takes two to make a quarrel, and if the Christian maintains his self-composure by the grace of God, the argument will cease, for most altercations will soon run out of steam if no oil is added to the flames. As a matter of fact, the speaking of hasty, angry words, and the argumentative, confrontational spirit indulged by so many, constitutes a manifestation of our carnal nature, and as such, does not originate with God. Let's read:
1st Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
On the contrary, a subdued, kind and gentle spirit is a manifestation of that love which comes from above, and that was always exemplified in the life of Christ. Let's read:
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
This gentleness was vividly displayed when Christ was greeted by Judas Iscariot in the Garden of Gethsamane, just before the angry mob took Jesus captive. With his heart full of hypocrisy and deceit, he approached Jesus with a kiss, whereupon Christ responded in the manner all Christians should respond when encountering a known "back-stabber". Let's read:
Matthew 26:48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.
Again, the calm, gentle spirit of Christ manifested itself when the angry mob accused Him falsely before the Sanhedrin. Not a frown, not a furrowed brow, not an angry word was seen or heard, but throughout the entire ordeal Jesus remained quiet and composed.
Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 63 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Christ as our great exemplar has set the precedent for all of our thoughts, actions and responses to false accusations, angry words, and even physical violence against our persons. The natural human response is fight back, retaliate, and get even, but the Godly response as manifested in Christ is to not react in an angry or violent manner, but rather to trust our case with our Heavenly Father. Let's read:
Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Not only does the Bible teach us the appropriate response to angry words or unfair treatment, but it also teaches that we should be willing to forgive those who trespass against us by using incendiary and abusive language in their interactions with us. Let's read:
Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
It's obvious then, that the principles which govern this world as we know it, are antagonistic to the principles of righteousness, and therefore we would need a Power that is not inherent in human nature, to faithfully resist the incursions of the the promptings of the flesh against our own souls. That's where the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit comes in, to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. By co-operation and surrender to Christ, we too will also be empowered to remain calm and composed, even through the most aggravating and disturbing circumstances.
We hope and pray that we would learn to bridle the tongue that it may speak only blessings, and not curses, for a mega promise is made to all who trust in the Mighty God for help in the perplexing situations of life. It reads:
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
May this be our experience both now and forever. God bless!