16 September 2018

16 September 2018

Categories:

Sticks and Stones…

Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me…”

How many of you have heard this little saying before?

I remember hearing it as a kid. The thing is that as I look at it now, I think this has things totally backwards…

I mean at least if someone is physically attacking you, it is obvious that something needs to be done about it. I generally isn’t something that we would just ignore… If a kid roles into class at school twice a week and has been obviously beaten up, people won’t just ignore it and tell them to get over it…

“Names will never hurt me…”

We tell ourselves and others it doesn’t really matter…  “It was just a joke” , “They don’t mind”

While damaging words may not hurt us as badly, or as obviously, as getting beaten up, but over time, I would suggest that they can be far more damaging…

Having an attitude that the nasty things people say to us, or perhaps that we say to others, doesn’t matter strikes me as being about as smart as saying that eating McDonalds every for a week and not having a heart attack means it isn’t damaging your health…

The wounds our words inflict on others are cumulative, that is they build up over time. Slowly reshaping and reforming the way they see themselves and the world around them.

When we look at the passage we have today, it reminds us that our words aren’t harmless…

Back to the Passage…

James 3:2–10 GNB

2 All of us often make mistakes. But if a person never makes a mistake in what he says, he is perfect and is also able to control his whole being.

3 We put a bit into the mouth of a horse to make it obey us, and we are able to make it go where we want.

4 Or think of a ship: big as it is and driven by such strong winds, it can be steered by a very small rudder, and it goes wherever the pilot wants it to go.

5 So it is with the tongue: small as it is, it can boast about great things. Just think how large a forest can be set on fire by a tiny flame!

6 And the tongue is like a fire. It is a world of wrong, occupying its place in our bodies and spreading evil through our whole being. It sets on fire the entire course of our existence with the fire that comes to it from hell itself.

7 Human beings can tame and have tamed all other creatures—wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish.

8 But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison.

9 We use it to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse other people, who are created in the likeness of God.

10 Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!

There are a few things here that really jump out as we read this…

Firstly, this passage in James highlights that controlling what we say is really hard work.

Even in the time of Jesus, humanities ability to domesticate plants and animals, to harness the forces of nature, was a point of pride… Yet our own tongue remained something that was always a bit unpredictable and dangerous.

James 3:2 GNB

2 All of us often make mistakes. But if a person never makes a mistake in what he says, he is perfect and is also able to control his whole being.

Basically, if you are in complete control of everything you say, then you are doing really well… For the rest of us, we need to trust in God’s grace and forgiveness when we mess up…

 

Secondly, this passage mentions something that I think is really important in terms of how we see ourselves and others…

James 3:8–10 GNB

8 But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison.

9 We use it to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse other people, who are created in the likeness of God.

10 Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!

Throughout the Bible, from the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis, we see this idea that as humans, we are all created in the likeness of God. This theme gets developed and basically concludes that because we bear God’s likeness, we are all valuable. That basically, no matter what we do or say, no matter how others see us, we all bear God’s likeness and are precious for that reason alone.

The question is, do our worlds reflect this truth?

When we speak to others, do we realise who we are talking to? Does the way we speak to others acknowledge what is sacred, precious, beautiful, even divine in those around us.

James 3:11–12 GNB

11 No spring of water pours out sweet water and bitter water from the same opening.

12 A fig tree, my brothers and sisters, cannot bear olives; a grapevine cannot bear figs, nor can a salty spring produce sweet water.

This passage concludes with a question about what is coming out of us, what sort of fruit are we producing? Is that which comes forth from us, the words of our mouths, something which speaks life into those who hear it, or something that diminishes and destroys?

Are we using our words to speak truth that helps people understand how God sees them? How God longs for them to see themselves?

Speak Life

We live in a world where we are all constantly bombarded with messages about who we are, who we should be and how we should see those around us. Most of it is completely false in that it can cause us to lose sight of the most important truths about ourselves and others.

As a church, what if this community here is the one place where people something true about themselves for a change… What if this is the one time in someones week where they can hear that they are precious in God’s eyes… That God longs for them to understand themselves as a beloved child of God. That they aren’t defined by failure, shame brokenness or anything else… That they are loved, accepted held and renewed in the love and grace of God… No matter what others might say about them.

As an individual follower of Jesus, how can your words bring life to those in your family, your workplace, your community. What if you are the only person who has taken the time to see someone as Jesus sees them and to perhaps remind them that they are God’s beloved child who is being called home.

May this also be a reminder for us, that we are God’s beloved children. That is who we are, that is all we are. That is the most important thing.

Responding to lies with silence doesn’t work…

May the words we share together here in worship, together as a community and individually with those we meet…

Speak life…

Speaker: Rev. Stephen Rothery

I am married to Shannan and we love life in the Redlands.

 

I love tinkering with technology, have spent waaaay too much time in on-line gaming and am an early adopter of virtual reality. (Currently rocking a HTC Vive at home and GearVR for mobile) Before coming into ministry my background was in Electrical Engineering/IT which meant I spent a lot of time working with information systems and automation in factories and industry around Queensland. All of this means that I am basically a huge nerd 🙂

 

In terms of faith, I am passionate about journeying with people as they seek to follow Jesus and understand what this looks like in their family/work/community. None of us are perfect, but through God\’s grace we can make a difference as together we seek to bring hope in places of despair, love to those who feel lost or ashamed and comfort to those who are hurting.