Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Tree of Life

"If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless."  James 1:26
     My tongue, it's difficult, unmanageable, and seemingly irredeemable.  I stand in grace, as Romans 5:2 says, but feel bent nearly double by the words of James.  We've been memorizing James 3, for a while now, and I carry those words with me through the day.  When the wrong words fly out of my mouth, the words of James weigh me down.  Why does God set such an impossibly high standard?  My words have been short tempered, too frank, and down right mean to my husband and kids.  Feeling burdened by my sin, my inability to control my tongue that James insists I must master, I come crying to God.  I admit, I come whining to God.  I read Matthew 11:28-29 and cry wet, hopeless tears because Jesus promises His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and then He follows that up with James 3, and speaking words of life seems to be a heavy yoke on my shoulders.  I've been asking Him questions.  Why does He command me to be perfect (Matt. 5:48), as He is, when I know I'm broken and it's only grace?  Why is there such a long list of the fruits and actions of a godly life, but He said this would be easy?
"For we all stumble in many ways.  If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well."  James 3:2
     I've come up with a little analogy, hopefully sound, but clearly not found in the Bible.  I am a woman in the deep sea, with the weight of my sin on my back, and though I try to swim for shore, I am pressed down, in the depths, facing certain death.  Christ comes, in a boat, and takes that sin burden off my shoulders and desires to take me to shore.  Sometimes I act as if Christ rows on ahead and cheers my strokes as I swim for land.  Sure, I'll get tired, and He'll throw a lifesaver if I go under, but there's a whole lot of swimming to be done.  I don't think that's what really happens.  I think Christ lifts that sin, but He never lets go, He's pulling me to shore.  He might lift me right into that boat.  All the time I'm still in the water, swimming as if my life depended on it, weary, arms flailing, words flying while I try to attain the impossible.  And just watch out if you get in the way of a godly woman striving for perfection.
"But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison."  James 3:8
 "But the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18b
     This is a holy standard, and I won't try to mitigate it, manage it, compromise.  There is incontrovertible hope.  God doesn't leave me as He found me, or even as I am.  The gospel is for sinners, for me.  God loves me, but required Christ's death for my acceptance.  God loves me, but doesn't like the rash, harsh, foolish words I speak.  Truthfully, I don't always like myself either.  When I listen to His words of both Law and Grace, I am relieved, His Spirit changes me, to be like Christ.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Phil. 1:6
     I want to speak healing words of life.  Only by His Spirit.
"A soothing tongue is a tree of life..." Prov. 15:4
"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life..." Prov. 10:11

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful scriptures--the best words! I enjoyed reading your analogy. Blessings.