Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Tongue is a Fire

This morning the New Testament reading for the Morning Office was from James chapter 3.

 "...if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.  If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.  Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."

Of course this is a passage that always convicts me, after all I have a big mouth that spouts off things that ought not to be said constantly.  I lack that filter that should exist between thought and speech.  Even when I pause and carefully consider my words, still the wrong things come out, because that filter just doesn't exist.  I am honestly at a loss as to what I've done wrong most of the time, only in retrospect, days later sometimes, can I figure out why people are shocked, appalled and offended by what I say.  I have prayed for the ability to speak only kind words, only uplifting and encouraging words... that prayer has yet to be answered.

The most encouraging thing in this passage is the fact that James says "no human being can tame the tongue" which means it's not totally up to me.  I've tried over the years to control my tongue, to no avail.  I've tried "giving God control" over my speech... that lasts only until I'm actually in a conversation of course.

The only thing that works for me is total silence.  

Of course that is not practical, I'm not a Trappist monk so I need to speak during the day, and as soon as I do... poof, things begin to burn!  I can say to myself in the morning, "Today, with the Lord's help, I am going obey the injunction of Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." But as soon as someone mentions politics or religion, or pretty much anything other than puppies... oh hell, even puppies can set me off... I'm spouting flames.  I suspect that I'm hopeless on this.  Lord forgive me because I'm not able to shut my mouth. 

I suppose that some (most?) of this is due to the fact that I am most certainly on "The Spectrum" (I score 40 on the online test) :-)  Even though I can usually cope just fine with life there are places and times when I just can't fit in with society.  My unintentional rudeness is a constant battle, as I try and cover it up by pretending I'm being sarcastic or deliberately tweaking those in authority, when really it's that I'm oblivious to the fact that I'm saying anything wrong at all.  Ah well, being an "Angry Gnome" what does anyone expect of me anyway?  

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