Great Plains Daily Devotional for 7/6/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Wichita East Heights UMC
Wichita East District
Wichita Heart of Christ
Wichita East District
Wichita Korean UMC
Wichita East District
Wichita Saint Mark UMC
Wichita East District

Today's Lectionary Text

James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet 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 exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Today's Devotional

The letter of James is a favorite of mine, as it doesn't dwell in theological theory but in practical application as to how we live and act out our faith in our lives. Some of what James had to say probably made his readers a bit uncomfortable, and I must admit he steps on my toes a bit also in the third chapter of his letter, as he moves from talking about being a doer, not just a hearer of the Word, to talking about the misuse of our tongues.
I remember an old cartoon of Nancy and Sluggo (I know I’m dating myself here) where Nancy is wearing a paper sack on her head as she says: ‘The person who said ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me’ was probably never called chipmunk cheeks!’” Words can really hurt. I also remember having an argument with my mom when I was a senior in high school (and of course I knew everything) and I sent her away in tears with my words. She told me later “you have a sharp tongue and it hurts.” However, James goes well beyond the childish insults and family spats we have probably all endured, though his admonitions are for them as well, for he is writing to the churches of the 1st century. He uses phrases such as "the tongue is a fire; it stains the whole body; no one can tame the tongue -- a restless evil, a poison.” With the tongue we bless the Lord and curse those who are made in the likeness of God if they dare offend us.
Could James be speaking to the church today? What do you think? How have we used the tongue in local church issues as we struggle for control of our resources? Or when we disagree over possible responses to COVID? In general church issues, we misuse our tongues as we try to chart a new course for the Church that is inclusive and loving. I would submit that many of us have not learned to tame our tongues. I have found it helpful to use verse 9 as a mantra to be used when I feel my tongue is about to be set aflame: “Bless, don’t curse.”
-Rev. Galen Wray, Retired Elder

Prayer for Reflection

Creator God, you have gifted us with bodies (including the tongue) and minds to do your will. Help us use these tools we have been given to be those who bless one another and not curse one another. Amen.


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