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Bear, Believe, Hope and Endure (The Tongue pt. 2)

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When I saw that both Jesus and James mentioned “hell” and “fire” in reference to the use of our tongue, I knew there was something there worth looking into.  James says our tongue IS a fire, ignited by hell (which I think means the tongue tends toward judgment/condemnation and can easily incite widespread damage).  Here’s a passage from James chapter 3 which I find very thought-provoking:

(James 3:2-12 ESV): “And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, 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 things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

The tongue is simply an outlet to express the heart (mind, awareness, thoughts), so the heart is the real issue.  That being said, our words are uniquely important because they carry the internal things of our heart into the external world, with tremendous potential for a lasting positive or negative influence on the hearts of others.  (A simple example would be this).  James seems find it especially repulsive that our tongue is used as an instrument of both blessing and poison/cursing, using several analogies to show how perverse this is.  As I read, I began to wonder: what does it actually look like and mean to “curse” someone?  I realized many scriptures mention blessing and cursing as opposites, so if we know what blessing is, then it’s reverse will be cursing.

The Greek word for “blessing” is eulogia, a compound of eu, meaning “good, well,” and logos, meaning (roughly) “speech, communication.”  Generally speaking, I would say blessing means “to speak well of, to put in a favorable position.”  Cursing then is the opposite, meaning “to speak negatively of, to put in an unfavorable position.”  Again, the mouth is essentially the heart’s outlet, therefore if our heart (mind, awareness, and thoughts) is focused on someone’s flesh – their old, selfish, corrupt nature – then sooner or later our mouth will follow; pointing out flaws, criticizing, and condemning, thus putting that person in an unfavorable position before God and man.  That’s speaking a curse, even if what we’re saying is true.  Cursing highlights sin and flaws, as opposed to love, which “covers a multitude of sins.”1

If our heart (mind, awareness, and thoughts) has been purified by the realization of all things being made new in Christ, we will see according to love,2 seeing everyone (at least potentially) as “made in the likeness of God” and a new creation in Christ.  If that is so, how can we speak a curse to them?  Didn’t James say blessing and cursing from the same mouth “ought not to be?” In another place, the apostle Paul wrote that love thinks no evil of anyone, but always bears, believes, hopes and endures all.3  I believe he meant this: love does not in any way relate to men by their flesh or sins, but bears the burden of men’s ignorant and selfish ways, believes they are still made in the image of God, hopes they will “come to their senses” and acknowledge this, and endures whatever hardships come until this takes place. 

Hopefully it’s now clearer why blessing and cursing from the same mouth is a bad sign – it shows a mind/heart that isn’t matured in love, and love is the goal.  Jesus Christ, as “the last Adam” and “the second man,” became in his death the end of Adam’s race, and in his resurrection the first member of a new race of men.4  Many don’t see or acknowledge that, and what will happen to those people is God’s business, but those who do are to regard no one according to the flesh anymore.5  To speak a curse is to be an agent of the law, making people self-aware by pointing out their shortcomings and failures.  Interestingly, when James say the tongue is “full of deadly poison,” it literally says “death-bringing poison,” and scripture teaches law is what empowers and brings death!6  To speak a blessing is to be an agent of grace, seeing beyond the flaws of someone’s flesh and thus speaking to them life-giving things, making them aware of the divine spirit of God within them, the hope of the new creation that began with Christ.  This doesn’t mean we pretend no flaws exist, and sometimes we might need to point out things that are hindering people from walking as sons and daughters of God.  But it does mean we don’t consider or speak to people based on their flaws, but based on the presence or potential for the seed/spirit of God within them.

I’m not sure if I’ll make another post about the tongue next time or not, we’ll see where I’m led.  Grace and peace to you all.

 

 

  1. 1 Peter 4:8
  2. 1 Peter 1:22
  3. 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 KJV.  “Things” isn’t in the original Greek, but was added by the translators.
  4. 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47.  See also this and this.  
  5. 2 Corinthians 5:16
  6. Romans 7:5, 1 Corinthians 15:56
 
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Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Rethinking God’s Blessings

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”1

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”2

“For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.  It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.”3

I will try to keep this post shorter than most, for a change.  God is so different from the ways ALL religions perceive Him.  He’s not “like” or “unlike” anyone or anything.  He is Holy (separate), different from all else.  He is who He is.  Even the apostle Paul wrote that God’s mind, judgments and ways cannot be discovered by man.4  Therefore when something happens in our lives that doesn’t make sense to us as those who try to honor and obey God, keep in mind God has a different view than we do.  Ultimately, we can’t know God’s heart and ways using our own reason or knowledge.  Knowing God ONLY comes by intimacy and divine revelation from the Spirit of God Himself.  In 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul wrote this: “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” 

So often, believers say that while America is not perfect, we are “blessed” to live here.  It’s true that in a physical sense, we have freedom, wealth, and opportunity that are almost unimaginable for literally billions of people on this planet. We call these things the blessings of God, but are they?  While I appreciate these things just as most do, I think they are actually often hindrances and distractions to the true pursuit and knowledge of God, and they aren’t His blessings at all.

God is concerned with our spiritual growth and development.  Our flesh He doesn’t care about, and often hinders true spiritual growth.  The concept of the spiritual realm is still one that is hugely misunderstood and largely ignored within Christianity.  (That sad fact drives me crazy).  But it’s the realm of the spirit which God deals in and is concerned with.  I don’t think He honestly cares that much if in the natural realm we have lots of money and opportunity, or next to none.  Christians remain under intense persecution all around the world, and you can read in Acts some of the horrible things the first believers had to endure for their faith.  Does God love these believers less?  Were they less “blessed?”  No, not as God sees it.  They were more blessed, because they had more wisdom, understanding, revelation, anointing, communion, power, and grace from God.  Those are His true blessings.  His blessings are in the spiritual realm.

When things aren’t going your way, when you’re going through all varieties of hardships and trials, when you’re suffering and don’t know “why,” try to resist the common lie that God is angry at you and is punishing you.  Know this: we believers, who have a spiritual Father, are spiritual beings ourselves, merely residing in a temporary fleshly container.  So if the container is suffering, or our own will is crossed, don’t doubt that God still loves you, He is working on the spirit.

If our so-called “blessings” disappear in the physical world, whether this were to be sudden or gradual, maybe this prepares a way for us to perceive, appreciate and pursue the spiritual blessings that we have and are available but we’ve been distracted from.

To those suffering now: maybe your Father is chastising you, but then again maybe He’s blessing you.  Maybe in the end there’s no difference.

  • 1. John 15:2
  • 2. 1 Peter 4:12-13
  • 3. Hebrews 12:6-10
  • 4. Romans 11:33-34
 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Honesty

Something I’m realizing is it’s important to simply be honest.  Religion and fear tempt men to hide their faults and sins, fearing judgment or condemnation, but this is itself a fault.  I believe the dynamic that keeps men full of pretense – PRETENDING to be holy and Christlike, is pride.  Pride won’t allow a negative perception of self.  Jesus called the Pharisees and religious folk of his day “hypocrites.”  This word carried the idea of an actor in a play, who wears different masks and performs different roles.  Hypocrisy is pretending to be something one is not.

(Matthew 23):  27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Don’t be a hypocrite.  Refuse to let fear keep you from being “real.”  This isn’t to say that you should give in to any desire you may have, or say anything that comes to mind.  No, there are competing natures within a believer – the flesh and the spirit.  The spirit must conquer the flesh, and the flesh must remain crucified and in a position of death.  To speak or act from anger, compulsion, fear, etc. is to speak or act from the flesh – the corrupt, selfish nature.  I’m simply saying be real in regards to your weakness, failures, and struggles.  Don’t put on a “mask” and pretend to be righteous or wise or strong or whatever – this is hypocrisy when in reality you have places within that need to be cleaned out, or areas of confusion in your mind.  Be real, be honest, humble yourself before God and men, and if you are God’s child and desire righteousness, you will see and be a recipient of God’s discipline and His grace to change you and conform you into His image.  As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you should have no greater honor or desire.

(James 4): Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

(Titus 2): 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age…

God bless you.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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