Do you guard what you say with your mouth? Do you find yourself in situations where your words wound people and you are without words for working out the messes you make? Hopefully, this story will help all of us think before we speak.
Working with children teaches lessons that keep me learning and looking for ways to help them control their tongues. Recently, a young lad stood in front of me waiting for his sentence. His words had been hurtful and hateful to anyone who crossed his path that day. We talked openly about the damage the tongue can do, how friendships are broken, family members hurt, teachers angered, and people refrain from forming close relationships with one who doesn’t guard his or her mouth. He agreed with me but felt there was little hope for things to change. My frustration mounted as he recounted his trail of troubles due to his track record of saying wrong things at wrong times. I sighed and said, “Here’s what we’re going to do my child. Grab your Bible and come with me.”
My feelings felt a stiff punishment was needed; yet, his humble spirit and willingness to admit he was guilty tendered my heart. God stepped in and helped me see a firm hand, gentle spirit, lots of love, and His Word would help this young boy more than casting him aside - time out - again, arguing again, writing a letter of apology again, lecturing him again. We had gone around the mountain of repeating and repenting way too many times. Surely, God feels such frustration with you and me. How many times have we promised family, friends, and our Father in heaven we will change our ways, our words, our walk…only to repeat the little sins that keep us captive and continue to cause havoc in our lives? Often, we point fingers at others when we should pay attention to the three fingers pointing back at us.
Sitting beside the little boy I longed to help, my words of guidance flowed from a heart that understood where he was. My mouth has made many messes in my lifetime. His instructions were to read the book of James and think about his actions while the rest of the children played and worked together throughout the morning. He was not happy to be removed from the group but accepted his sentence with a smile. He read next door at Tim’s Gift while Ms. Loren worked. There were no distractions, no reasons for him to get off track. He was stuck in a quiet place with his Bible and reading assignment that would change his attitude and bring sunshine where storms had anchored in his heart.
It is amazing how God works things out when we allow Him to ‘have thine own way’! Trying to fix things our way often backfires, making mountains out of molehills. We dig deeper and deeper into situations that seem to have no solutions. Families suffer when untamed tongues tear them apart. Business owners scratch their heads and spend hours training employees to work in harmony and to treat customers with courtesy and kindness instead of grumbles and growls. Counselors at schools, churches, and workplaces and private practices have waiting lists of people seeking help from situations where words wounded and lives are shattered. Children see things and hear words on television, Internet, Facebook and interaction with people who act and speak with little respect and regard for the damage being done.
At young ages, our children learn it’s acceptable to speak harshly and act hateful, not treating others the way they want to be treated. Sinful living is openly displayed and our children are watching and learning the ways of the world, while we wonder what is happening and how to handle it. All the counseling, arguing, instructing, self esteem building, corrective measures, disciplinary techniques, second chances, and work shops to correct bad behaviors won’t work, unless we have a change of heart and seek help from the One who made us in His image. As a person, a couple, a family, a church, a business, a community, a nation, we must change our ways, turn our eyes to Jesus and seek help from the Great I AM!
When we are willing to repent and reach out to the Master, He is ready and waiting to wipe our slate clean, forgive and forget our sins, and walk with us step by step to a happy life here and in heaven. Trusting the Lord and taking our troubles, trials, and triumphs to Him daily keeps us on track and living in a spirit of humility and love. What in the world are we thinking when we keep going around the mountain of hurtful and hateful living? Looking for answers in all the wrong places is a habit we need to break. Seeking help from the Word of God keeps us humbled. Living our lives as Jesus taught earns respect and honor from all who know us, especially the One who matters most…God our Father.
This story closes with a young boy wrapping his arms around my neck saying, “James is right Ms. Becky. You’re tongue can get you in a lot of trouble. I’m gonna watch my words and read that book in my Bible again.”
I drove my children to lunch and thanked God for everyone of them. My tendered heart thanked Him for leading me to discipline my young student in love by reading the book of James and for Him working in the child’s heart to show Him what my words had failed to do. This dear child and I bonded in a spirit of love that will keep blessing me, as I pray it helps and blesses him too. I thought of all the powerful lessons in the little book of James. My thankful heart praised God for loving all His children.
James 2:8 shares how God expects us to love one another, to love our neighbor as we want to be loved. James 3 reminds us that we are not perfect and will say wrong things, that the tongue is small but can big damage. He compares the tongue to a fire that can spread evil through the whole body. He reminds us not to judge others; He is the only One who can save and destroy. He says we are wise and understanding by living right and doing good things with a gentleness that comes from wisdom. The wisdom that comes from God is pure, then peaceful, gentle and easy to please, always ready to help those who are troubled and to do good for others, always fair and honest. James concludes his message with a plea for anyone who is having troubles to pray and anyone happy should praise the Lord. James 5 shares a powerful lesson of truth… When a believing person prays, great things happen.