“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2
Oh boy, do I ever wish I could say I never stumbled in my words or at least could say I can bridle my tongue even for a day! This verse has always struck me when I think or talk about the tongue and my spoken words.
I was tested in this very thing right at the start of our new fall Bible study focused on Loving Well. Someone (someone being one of our four children) had abused the pump soap in our bathroom by pumping it all over the side of the sink. I was on a warpath immediately to find out who the offender was and to skillfully conjure a confession out of the culprit. First I approached all of them stating the problem and asking who did it. Of course, no confession. I promptly proceeded to lay down the consequence and announced that all four would suffer the same consequence if someone did not come forward. Still no result.
I was letting this situation consume me, and confronting my own children in anger. I resorted to approaching each of them individually, offering them confidentiality if only they would be honest and confess. Still nothing! Frustrated and angry at the dishonesty I was convinced was taking place, I confess, I did NOT speak in love. I somehow felt justified in my words and actions because honesty is very important to me and something I purpose to cultivate in my children. Nevertheless, I had to let it go. My spirit was broken along with theirs.
Later that evening, I pulled out my Bible study to work on, and He lovingly corrected me—starting with the key verse for that week: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” He knows that honesty is important to me, but He offered me the possibility that the “soap incident” could have been an accident! Even if someone had played in my bathroom, why was it so important to me? Doesn’t His Word encourage us to cover offenses in love? 1 Peter 4:8 says,“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Some of the questions I faced from the study included:
- Is what you speak just noise to those around you? (embarrassingly, sometimes YES)
- Make a list of things you would like to change about the way you speak.
But most importantly was what I needed to do next:
- Pray and ask the Lord to forgive the way you have spoken and make a commitment to start anew.
I certainly stumbled in my words and I am grateful for His Word to lovingly correct me.
“Lord, I am so grateful that You are our constant teacher and that Your Word is alive and filled with ways to love and live well for You. Please continue to give each of us a teachable heart. Although we won’t be perfected until that day, help us to speak in love and not stumble in our words.”