knight

In the post entitled "Guard Your Heart (Be Careful How You Talk)," we looked at how our speech is determined by our thoughts and that, if we want to make our speech more Christ-like, then we must make our thoughts more Christ-like.

Today, I want to look at another aspect of our speech: cursing.

Yesterday, we looked at a portion of James 3.

Today, I'd like to extend the text to include an additional thought:

2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or 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. 5 Likewise, 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. 6 The 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.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
(Jam. 3:2-12 NIV)

The Bible is clear, friends: cursing is a sin.

Let's consider a few more passages where GOD speaks to the issue.

8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
(Col. 3:8 NIV)

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
(Rom. 12:14 NIV)

12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
(1 Cor. 4:12-13 NIV)

Most believers probably already know that cursing is condemned by GOD.

Yet, it is so incredibly common among people who profess to be Christians.

Why is this?

That's a discussion for another post, but the short of it is that many are trying to serve two masters, not truly knowing Jesus.

Some of us already possess the self-control to avoid cursing. That's good.

Cursing (and improper speech in general) is more of a temptation for some than for others.

But let me ask you this: Do you ever struggle with insulting other people?

I do.

Perhaps you only do it behind the person's back, instead of to their face, but if you speak negatively about them, it's just the same.

I must be honest. James 3:9-10 steps on my toes pretty hard.

Sure, the Bible teaches that we should avoid foul language.

But look at the message again:

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
(Jam. 3:2-12 NIV)

GOD is teaching us here not to curse people.

In other words, it isn't just saying curse words, but it's the act of berating or belittling another person.

For example, have you ever been driving down the road and someone pulls out in front of you and pokes along like they didn't even care? What do you do most of the time?

"You moron! What's wrong with you? Idiot!"

Ouch. I'm guilty.

Or what about the coworker who shows up late or doesn't do their job, yet they got the promotion you deserved or the boss likes them and, rather than dealing with their lack of productivity, (s)he dumps more work on you instead?

Or how about the bully in school who gets their way just because they're bigger than you and everyone else? Ever had any choice words for or about these people? I have.

Let's remember Jesus' example, as Peter said:

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
(1 Pet. 2:21-23 NIV)

Becoming a parent has taught me a lot about how GOD views us.

GOD is our Father—each of our Father.

He is no respecter of persons, which means that He loves the guy who pulled out in front of us on the highway, the incompetent coworker, and the school bully just as much as He loves you and me.

To Him, we're all special, just like each of our kids are special to us as parents.

When someone insults, mistreats, or puts down one of our kids, it hurts.

We want there to be peace in our family. And GOD wants peace among His creation, too.

So, since He's always present when we think or speak, He knows whenever we say something about one of our fellow siblings (speaking in terms of humanity), and it hurts Him when we curse one of them.

Let's be more intentional and thoughtful about our words, what we say, how we say them, to whom we say them, and about whom we say them.

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
(Prov. 11:12 NIV)

Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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