I shuddered this morning as I read, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
I have struggled lately and find myself, once again, searching for answers for direction and clarity in purpose. God, the captain of my ship, is who I go to for answers. This morning like many others I laid my confusion at the feet of Jesus. I sat down, opened my Bible and begin reading. I shuddered over the words judged more strictly. Writers like teachers impart knowledge and wield potential influence. I may not have a formal classroom with desks and chair; as a writer and blogger the internet is my classroom and the written word my medium. Anyone who reads what I have written is a potential student. Judged more strictly … presume… teachers…. all neon signs. To presume means to take for granted something exists or is the case. “Lord, have I presumed too much”, I ask. I mess up so much; do I truly desire to run the risk of stricter judgment? Not really.
The passage goes on to say, “Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire….”
I sat quietly before the Lord; the only response I could muster, “Oh my goodness!” Could my writing have an adverse effect on another person? Could my being a speaker at retreats and conferences, my being a writer and teacher of the Word, do harm? The Holy Spirit drew my eyes back to verse 5, “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” A great forest set on fire by a small spark… That would be me, a little spark hardly worth mentioning. What damage could I do? Yet, there right in front of me, God’s Word state, “the tongue also is a fire”. My body grew tenser as the realization I will be held to a stricter accountability takes shape. Yes, my words do possess the power to influence; bad or good. I don’t desire to have a tongue used for evil, or which starts a fire of influence which God never intended. My desire’s always been to make a positive difference in the lives of others, not do harm. God had my attention! Once again the Holy Spirit drew me back to James, this time verse 4. God impressed upon me the need to follow Him; to fulfill the purpose and walk the path set before me. Like the large ship turned by a tiny rudder, I can influence change positively; to do so God must be the pilot. Abide in Him and allow Him to pilot and I have nothing to fear. Whew! Good news!
I don’t know how many times I wished I could take back words spoken in haste or anger. In those moments my tongue is very much a tiny spark igniting a forest fire full of hurt. Hurt which strikes others to the core, much like a deadly poison. James goes on to say, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
Here’s to keeping my tongue in check, being considerate of others, full of mercy and nurturing good fruit-the Fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galatians. Here’s to being a tiny spark of influence for good!
Until next time,