My speech and actions are often a good reflection of what is in my heart (i.e. what I believe to be true.)
Many times, my words (and secret thoughts) are far from peaceful (James 3:18). Instead they reek of murder. When I find myself frustrated, angry, or quick tempered I often blame others or the circumstances around me . . . and many times I question God's goodness.
I was meditating on James chapters 3 & 4 this week. One of my favorite verses from the Bible is from James. "But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, submissive, full of good fruits and mercy, impartial and sincere (without hypocrisy)" (3:17). Is my speech full of this kind of wisdom?
Just before this verse, James says that "where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." Where MY selfish ambition exists, there is always DISORDER and SIN. It is often self and self-pity that causes so much trouble! I deserve this . . . I expect that . . . If God really loved me, this would not be happening.
In James chapter 4 it reads, beginning in verse 1, "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel . . ." I don't know about you, but this could describe me on many days when my desires and expectations are not met (or my feelings are hurt), especially with my husband & kids, and therefore, my words (and thoughts) go into a rampage - murdering, fighting, quarreling.
But how good it is that God has placed within EVERY believer the power of the Holy Spirit. And though the Spirit and flesh are in opposition to one another(Galatians 5:17), we have the power to walk by the Spirit, crucifying the flesh and its passions and desires (Galatians 5:16, 24). Though my tongue may drip with poison (James 3:8), there is HOPE. A mouth once full of rage, pity and despair, can now glorify God in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). A peaceful, fruitful harvest of righteousness CAN be sown.
Christ Jesus! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! He has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 7:14-8:2). Paul tells us in Romans 8:6 that the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. So, how can I emulate life and peace through my words and actions? How can I face trials, temptations, and confrontations without first rushing to self-pity, doubt, frustration, and anger?
James continues in chapter 4, urging his readers to submit and draw near to God. "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (4:10). For God "opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (4:6, Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 3:34). We must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). I love what Galatians 5:5-6 gets at: "For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." My Bible notes remind me that faith is not just believing God exists, but it's a living trust in God's grace that expresses itself in acts of love. Therefore, I must conclude that when my mouth wants to fume and run with hate, I MUST crucify those fleshly passions and, by the help of the Spirit, humble myself and believe that God is good in ALL things and is worthy of my loving obedience. With God's Word as my comfort and guide, Christ's example to follow, and the Spirit's help, I can run this race with great endurance, "fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3).
My children . . . Forgive Mommy when I have chosen anger over gentleness. Forgive me for being unkind and selfish when I don't get MY way. How I pray to emulate our Father's LOVE for His children . . . not just when you obey, or in the silly times; but I pray to model patience, love and gentleness when I must discipline and correct.
My husband . . . Forgive me when I have been critical and harsh. Forgive me for not submitting and respecting you in front of our children. I pray that your needs will always be my JOY and priority. May our children rest in the love and peacefulness of our home - which ONLY comes through Christ Jesus.
Praise Him! Praise Him! In my thoughts . . . words . . . and acts of loving, trusting obedience.