"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father,
and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.
Our of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this
should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water
flow from the same spring?"
A little moment from my car drive yesterday:
(Singing) You are the Lord, the famous one, the famous one!
[Cut off by car in front of me on 91 freeway]
(Whispering) You flippin' idiot!
[Pause for reflection, then back to singing]
You know, I debated blogging this wonderful little piece of myself with the world. I would rather you think that I never make mistakes and am filled with the Holy Spirit at all times. The good news is that I was instantly convicted of my mouth being unable to be a source for salt water and fresh water.
When I was in AWANAS I learned this verse:
"I have put your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
Being the budding theologist that I was, I asked my mom what that little verse meant. She told me that it meant that you when you learn verses and have them in your heart they'll jump out at you when you need them. Boy howdy was my Mother right! (Something you learn about your Mom when you yourself have had children is how often she was right). When I spit out my little angry riff at the guy/lady who cut me off James 3 came right after it. How dare I being praising God in my car so earnestly and the next split-second be cursing my fellow man?
Might I begin defending my flesh to you by saying this: I have a very low tolerance for stupid. This low tolerance drops even lower while driving in the car. Dipping lower still when my kids are buckled, sleeping in their car seats. I'm not sure when we, as vehicle driving humans decided that we were all NASCAR drivers on the freeway? I'm most likely the person you're going to pass because I'm going the speed limit, checking my blind spot and signaling to get into the next lane. I learned that I am the exception rather than the rule in Orange County. (Especially anywhere near a mall in South County.) I wish we could all realize how dangerous it is to steer a giant, metal box at 80 miles per hour.
So concludes my "justification" of my little one-liner. It holds water for me to be upset, but not to call someone a flippin' idiot. I know that's pretty euphemistic for most drivers, even you born-again drivers. I know better than to be upset by something someone else does. My spirit should soar far above such things. My righteous anger could be funneled into other more constructive and Godlike outbursts.
I have been so much better with my tongue (the tongue is called the rudder of our bodies in James 3) since Josiah started repeating everything I say. You never look as bad as you do when your child reflects you. Nothing like hearing your two year old say "jerk", "idiot", "butt-cheeks", etc. You don't realize how quickly we fall into the problem of our tongues. It's a little spark to start a forest fire (also in James, I didn't write it.) I didn't say any curse words until I got to college. Whoops. I never let them slip in front of people that weren't Christians. But whoa did they ever fly in my driving! (I'm sensing the source of my problem...) I had to drive 20 minutes to work almost everyday. I was very small in my Nissan and surrounded by many trucks and SUVs hauling river equipment who needed to get to the river as quickly as possible! Scary. I was good again when I went to Bible College. Well, when I was at Bible College. As in when I was on campus praying in chapel or listening to my ethics professor. Driving to and from Murrieta on a little highway to Beaumont is nothing short of a driving lesson. My mouth taught a few unheard lessons to fellow drivers. That's the funny part, right? The person you're so angry at never even hears it! How incredibly lame am I? I look like an angry mime. What a fool I have proven myself.
I should clarify something: it's not just what our society calls "curse words". It's our personal reservoirs of euphemistic imprecations. You know your regular run of the mill "idiot" or "stupid" or even those ironic nicknames you give your friends because we're all so funny when we're ironic & sarcastic. (Relevant magazine did an awesome article about our generation being this way...) What does it say about your heart when you call someone else that? What does it say about your relationship with God when you yell at his other creations? That's the part of the passage the grabs my heart: "we curse men, who were made in God's likeness" . If you say "I don't like YOU" you are then saying "I don't like WHAT GOD MADE". Which in turn is saying "God, you flippin' idiot." O-U-C-H. Not exactly the relationship I have with my savior. Wasn't I just praising his name... then cursing it? Heavy duty. That's why we can't go around spouting off gossip or slander about people. It's hurtful to them and because of that it's hurtful to God. God doesn't want you talking about him behind his back or cursing to his driver's side window.
I have to work on this, my mouth. I might not ever tame my tongue... but I'll work at it diligently.
I'll return to a couple of my favorite sources of wisdom and faith-inspiring work: The Newsboys and Sunday School songs.
bring it all into perspective
the tongue will steer the ship ahoy
spark up a flame
feel the pain of habanero sauce
a word's forever
when we speak we set `em free
so watch your mouth
and you be careful what you say, Jimmy
Newsboys, Cup O' Tea
That last line, "so watch your mouth and you be careful what you say Jimmy." That's a little ditty I've oft repeated to myself.
One more for emphasis:
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.
There's a Father looking down in tender love.
So be careful little mouth what you say.
(You can do your own Sunday learned hand motions for that one.)
I might teach Sunday School, but not all of my own Sunday School lessons from my childhood have sunk in. I'll keep trying... I'll keep praising and hoping that my praise will be the only sort of thing that flows out of my mouth. I have so many reasons to watch my mouth. Most of all to keep praising God without insulting his creation.