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Seven-Day Practical Faith Blog: Taking Care with Our Words

James 3:2-12

What do my words have to do with my seven-day practical faith? They have an outsized impact.

It's amazing how our words can uplift and heal. It's frightening how our words can cause lasting damage to relationships, psyches, and situations. You would think this knowledge would make us even more careful with our words in an era where words can fly faster, farther, and with more impact, but it seems like many people are less careful than ever.

Some of my biggest regrets in life are times when I was careless with my words. In my upcoming book, Unison Parenting, I mention a couple of times when I hurt my children with my words. Oh, I thought I was saying the right thing at the time, and I know my motivations and the difficult situations I was facing. Still, I could have done better.

On the other hand, what a blessing it is to hear, "Something you said stuck with me," and then the person may describe further how your words served as clarity and encouragement.

A great seven-day practical faith guide in the Bible is the Letter of James. The brother of Jesus knows how to meet the rubber with the road. In James 3:2-12, James provides some of the best insight into words that you'll ever read or hear.

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 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, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Out of the many wise verses, the one that strikes me most is "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" I'm reminded of the mixed results that my tongue provides and that, indeed, I am a source of both fresh and brackish water. To enhance my practical faith journey, I need to increase the one while decreasing the other.

We need to take better care with our words, and when we inevitably mess up, try to repair the damage as quickly, politely, and carefully as possible. Look for reactions from the listener and adjust quickly if you see you've made an obvious mistake. If you don't, continue to ponder what you've said and how you can fix and clarify. Often we want to justify what we've said; instead, we should admit that we botched the delivery, try again as we seek forgiveness, and use more careful and loving words to express what we should've said in the first place. "What I should have said..." is a great phrase to use.

How can you put the wisdom and guidance of James into the way you use words?

I recently had a delightful, meaningful chat with the team at Pearls of Promise about my new book, "From Comfort Zone to Trust Zone." The podcast is now available on a variety of platforms, including the Pearls of Promise website, Soundcloud, Spotify (search for Pearls of Promise, then select Pop Talk), Google Play, Frankspeech, and Radio Public. It will also air at specific times: Fri., Mar. 8 at noon Central on Fishbowl Radio Network in Studio A at, and on on Sun., Mar. 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. CT/5:00 p.m. PT. I would be honored if you would listen, as I think it is a really good discussion and will enhance your faith.

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