Chapter three is my favorite chapter in the book of James. It hits home with me because I think it's the area where God convicts me the most. Women are known for being talkers. My husband has heard me on the phone before talking to someone and after hanging up, he has busted me. "Babe, how would you feel if someone was talking about you like that?" Then I try to justify by saying, "I am not saying anything bad. I am just trying to explain the situation to someone that will understand." But, here's the cold, hard, facts. It's wrong, it destroys, it damages, it makes you look bad. And if someone is talking/"discussing" something with you about another person, rest assured, they will do the same about you behind your back. Another justification we make is this. "Well, I am just talking about it with my friend because maybe the can help me work through it." In my opinion, that's the worst kind of gossip.
A few years ago I was in a horrible position. I had two friends that did not like one another at all. Both of them talked bad about each other to me. I should have stopped it. I should have said, "Should you be saying this to me?" But, I didn't. Instead, I sometimes joined in and talked about both of them. When this goes on, we plant seeds in the other person's mind that may not have been there until we opened up our big mouth. Ugh! I hate even writing about this because things come to my mind INSTANTLY and I feel convicted. The problem with the situation a few years ago was we were all a part of the same circle. If someone had a problem with another lady, they should have talked to someone that is totally on the outside. A friend that does not even KNOW the other person. Further more, maybe it should not be talked about AT ALL. What if we got on our knees every single time someone did something we didn't like instead of picking up the phone to tell our friends? For example, I am in a group of women right now that is pretty small. There are four girls that I come in contact with on a regular basis. A few of them I talk to almost every day and see every other. If one of them does something to hurt my feelings or if there is something I do not understand or like about them, it would be WRONG for me to call up one of the other girls and tell them about it. And if one of them calls and decides to tell me about their hurt feelings over something, I need to say "Stop. Don't tell me." This is the biggest threat to groups and it can destroy friendships and damage what God is trying to accomplish in our lives. Did you get that? Our words about others can HINDER what God is doing in their lives. That is HUGE!
As I read this passage this morning, I felt convicted of some of my behavior in the past. I have not been a part of a close knit group of women in a long time. I know how miserable it is to be a part of a group where gossip goes on and I know what it is like to be a major contributor to that sort of environment. I also know what it feels like to be talked about. There is nothing that hurts more than someones words. Physical pain is easier to deal with in my opinion. Much easier!
Several years ago I was a children's pastor at a very small church. That's weird to think about now because that is so not my gift. Anyway, I did an object lesson one Sunday that so many of you are probably familiar with. I took a tube of toothpaste and squeezed the entire tube into a bowl and then ask the kids to help me get all of the toothpaste back into the tube. You can imagine their responses. "Miss Mandi, you can't do that! It's impossible!" And they were absolutely correct. It's impossible!! The toothpaste is exactly like our words. You can clean up the toothpaste, just like you can ask for forgiveness for saying ugly things but ,you cannot take those words back. It's impossible!!
Luke 12:2 says this. "Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftops. "
This morning at 4am, Ezekiel woke up. He is teething so his nights have been a little rough lately and mine too. But it's also been good for my prayer time. I knew what James 3 was about this morning so I began to pray about it and I thought of a dear friend in my life, Janna. She will hate me putting her on display like this but the Holy Spirit brought her to my mind. I have known Janna since 8th grade and I can honestly say that I have NEVER heard her gossip and I have NEVER heard anyone gossip about her. She is the only person I have ever known that I can say that about. And that is the kind of woman I long to be. I feel that God has called me to minister primarily to women and that means I have to love them instead of talk about them.
Chapter three was not the most FUN chapter to read but it is the one that has the most impact on me. I am praying that God will convict me of my words and that I will become instantly aware of things I DO NOT need to say. There is NOTHING good that comes from it. Even if it's about people in the past, people you no longer know, talking about them is wrong. I've been guilty over and over again and I no longer wish to be that kind of woman. I'm not here to make you feel guilty but if the shoe fits, it may be time to take that shoe off! I am praying that others will say, "Amanda loves people and I never hear her say bad things about other people."
And one more thing! I am so proud to be a part of a group of young women that are constantly seeking godliness. I am praying for protection over our group and I know that God has called us to be different. I am happy to be doing life with all of you.
1 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. 3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.