Archive for February 20th, 2008

A Raging Fire

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Today’s scripture: James 3:1-12 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

I really like this passage of Scripture. It’s tough, but honest. It’s like a cold slap in the face that awakens me to a key vulnerability. It’s like a good coach who pulls his/her players aside before an important game and sternly warns them to guard against their greatest vulnerability. That kind of advice is priceless.

Here James reminds us that, regardless who we are, one of our greatest vulnerabilities will always be our mouths.

James says, “Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect.” In other words, everybody is going to make mistakes in speaking, because nobody’s perfect. So the best we can hope is to control the problem.

Year ago, I was part of a Christian Fellowship Group at the law school I attended. For one of our outreach projects, we decided to invite students from the local school for the blind to share a dinner with us at the law school — an opportunity for them to learn a bit about what its like to go to law school. As the students arrived and began to take their places, I noticed that some of the folks from our Christian Fellowship Group were clustering together, leaving blind students to themselves. So I made a little announcement, reminding folks to mix and mingle, so everyone can get acquainted.

Afterward, a friend from the Christian Fellowship Group said to me, “Do you realize what you said?”

“What do you mean?”

“When you made that announcement, do you realize what you said?”

I was completely puzzled. “What did I say?”

“You said, ‘When you sit down to dinner, make sure one of our normal folks is sitting next to each student.’”

“I didn’t say that!” I insisted.

“Yes, you did.”

“I wouldn’t be that stupid; I couldn’t have said that.”

“Yes, you did.” Then she brought someone over to confirm.

In retrospect, the only thing I can figure is that I meant to say, “Make sure one of us who normally attends our Group sits next to each student.” But my words came out all wrong. Needless to say, the blind students — accustomed to being seen as abnormal — were very hurt by my words. I have often reflected on that experience and wished I could take back what I said. But I can’t.

Once spoken, a word is forever.

With that in mind, each one of us should proceed with great caution. Like the Psalmist, we should regularly pray, “Let the words of my mouth . . . be acceptable in Your sight, O God, my strength and redeemer.” Psalm 19:14.

Thought for the day: You are armed with a deadly weapon — your mouth. Don’t fire it off carelessly.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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