Recently, I was doing one of the things I enjoy the most: watching my son play soccer. Soccer is not only the greatest sport on the planet—it is a way of life in my house. For years, I have looked forward to Saturdays to soak in the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of my children’s soccer games. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see my children every time they receive the ball, dribble around all the players, and display their mad skills (that they received from me) and then score a goal! (Okay, maybe they don’t every time…)
During the game, my son went in for the ball to take it away from an opposing player, and the referee called a foul on him. Now, we all know, regardless of the sport, when a foul is called against your team, the referee is always wrong, and this was no exception! Caught up in the moment, I may have yelled out some not very “encouraging” words to the referee to let him know how wrong he was. Yes, I turned into one of those parents—the kind who sits on the sideline and knows better than the coach and definitely the referee.
The moment quickly died down and the game went on with no more incidents. That same afternoon, I received a text from a Corps member asking if I could lead his next Sunday School class. I responded back, “Sure, what is the scripture?” The reply was “James chapter 3.”
Later, putting my “outburst” behind me and while looking at James Chapter 3, I started to be convicted by what I was reading. The first 12 verses deal with the taming of our tongue, how or words have an effect on others, and that they should always be glorifying God. Immediately, I thought of the words that came out of my mouth earlier in the day and how wrong I was. James says in verse 5-6,
“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. 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.”
God reminded me to be careful of what I say and how I use my “tongue”! I was definitely in the wrong and needed to ask for forgiveness of my actions.
We need to constantly discipline ourselves to think through our words so our tongue does not become harmful to others. Our words can build others up or tear them down, lead others to Jesus or hinder them, glorify God or dishonor Him. When we disagree with someone (including a referee), we should choose our words wisely and always remember that our actions and reactions should reflect the Love of Jesus. If we are in a conversation that is leading to gossip, we should walk away, and when we are talking about other people, it should always be positive. James goes on in verse 9 to talk about how we cannot praise God with our tongue one minute and hurt others with it the next. The things we say to others or about others can have long-lasting effects. Those effects can either be positive or negative, helpful or harmful, Kingdom-building or Kingdom-deterring. I think you get the point.
So, what about you? What kinds of words are coming out of your mouth? What are you texting or sharing on your social media pages? Maybe our words have not been glorifying God, and we have been causing damage to others. I would encourage you to read James chapter 3, and if your words have been hurtful and not helpful, then ask God to forgive you and help you become more aware of what you say. Words are powerful, and we should always be using them to glorify God and lead other to Jesus.
Captain Roy Wild