We are given a great amount of freedom in this life. Yesterday, we covered the freedom to be warm, to invite others in, to be in meaningful relationship rather than a loneliness vacuum. We also have the freedom to believe what we would believe, even in the face of very real oppression in some corners of the world. We have the freedom to dance in the face of trial, to laugh when evil rears its ugly little head, because we know a God who is bigger, who is smarter, and frankly who is better than any of it.
Knowing God doesn’t give us these freedoms; they were there all along. But knowing God introduces us to these freedoms, opens our eyes to the freedoms we would miss otherwise. Read 2 Corinthians 3:16-17 to see how this works.
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
The veil is removed. If you look further back in your Bible at 2 Corinthians 3:12, which tells us we get to be bold.
I love bold. Bold speaks my language. I’m good for a soapbox and a heated discussion.
James comes in, to remind us again, of the two sides to every coin. As Christians we don’t just see one side in life, in conversation, or in any given situation. The veil is removed.
We are free to see two sides.
For the purpose of our study today, let’s look at the two sides of the coin that can be found in our words –
We can speak boldness.
And we can speak peace.
Read James 3:2-12.
2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.4 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. 5 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! 6 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. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
We all have some words. I know I have a few. Sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes they would be better off tucked away with my tongue against the side of my cheek, mouth closed.
Let’s connect some dots. Write James 3:18 out for yourself, or read it out loud.
And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
What does peace have to do with everything James talked about earlier in the passage? How is it connected to
a tongue setting the world ablaze
a ship of words that stays the course rather than being blown by the winds of time and raging emotion
words of sustenance for someone’s soul, rather than words of poison
tamed in the knowledge of the righteousness bestowed to every individual on the cross of Christ Jesus, rather than a rebel of selfish ambition, an animal that bites for attention and false affection
salt or fresh water?
fresh fruit or rotten?
James’s point isn’t that we will never be angry, that we will never go forth and proclaim the truth boldly.
Boldly go, friends. Boldly go.
But there are two sides to this coin. Even bold faith looks peaceable in Christ Jesus. The battle has been won. The victory claimed.
We just confess it.
Confessing is what helps us balance boldness and peace. We have a rudder, like James says. His name is Jesus. His Spirit guides our hearts and lives and, yes, our words.
Confessing is simply letting Christ guide, keeping Him at the center, considering in prayer before the words roll out – Dear Lord, help me find the boldness and help me find the peace, all in You.
Is your natural gift boldness or peace?
Can you tell us a time when you or someone you know had to speak boldly but peaceably?
Look back at James 3:2-12. Note any metaphors that James uses in this passage. He’s a word picture wiz. Isn’t it cool how God uses all our individual gifts to share His Spirit breathed message? The metaphors make hard truths, palatable. Which metaphor is the most helpful for you?