Friday, July 19, 2013
Reflecting the Image Includes the Tongue!
James 3:9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.
James 3:10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
James 3:11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?
James 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
James was a practical guy giving advice for those who were walking with Christ. He spoke about the need for living out the Christian life in terms of faith and works, but now he moves on to discuss the role of the tongue. Not only are works indicative of a life of faith, but so are the words that we speak. With our tongues we are to be engaged in praise of the Lord and Father! By the way, this is a curious combination of words, "Lord and Father," because generally in the Bible we read "God and Father." In other words it is a descriptor of God and yet the addition of the word Lord here changes the understanding. By this time Lord referred to Jesus Christ so the use of the two terms here together is significant in terms of the development of the early church's understanding of the Trinity. Therefore you have mention of Jesus and the Father in the early portion of this Scripture and then the verse concludes with the fact that with our tongues we, sadly, "curse those who are made in the likeness of God." So, the opening section of the verse helps us to understand that God is a holy communion of Lord and Father (and Holy Spirit), and that there is something holy and unique about those who are made in the likeness of that relationship. We are the people made in the likeness of God, who too are to participate in that holy communion but there are constant destructive forces that would keep us from that relationship.
What destroys relationships more than the tongue? Look at how many marriages are destroyed by the things that go said and unsaid. Or, how many marriages are destroyed because the people at work tell one another all the bad things about their spouses and somehow they feed into their frustrations and an entire group of marriages are destroyed. The tongue may be the most difficult thing to tame -- the most difficult part of our body to allow to become a reflection of Jesus Christ. But James is telling us that what comes from the mouth reveals the deeper reflection. If the person is reflecting Christ, then how can both blessing and cursing come out of the person. How can there be two sources within the person. This is not just a discourse on the tongue and the things we say, but it is a discerning of the person who calls themselves a follower of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is the source of who we are, how can evil words and cursings come from our tongues? What comes from the tongue will reveal whether you truly are reflecting the image or not.
Lord, please help me that my tongue would be a reflection of you. Amen.