Everyday Life

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Spoken From the Heart

This week reminded me I cannot control the nature of wild animals.  Someone’s pet duck appeared in our yard and took up residence.  He was a charmer! 

Mister Duck loved to eat (raw fish was his favorite) and he loved taking baths in a large plastic bin with fresh water.  He came running every time I poked my head outside, and when he was lonely, Mr. Duck tapped on the front door until I came out.  Because his breed doesn’t quack, honk or hoot, he was perfect. 

No one in our neighborhood knew where he came from.  I thought of catching him and taking him to live with my friend Roger’s ducks, but Mr. Duck was wild enough to nix that idea.  And if I’d built him a coop, his life would have been wretched.  So I settled into making each of his days glorious until a better plan came along.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I worried about the neighborhood raccoon family.  But Mr. Duck flew when he sensed danger and roosted at night on the tops of houses.  I decided to feed him and hope for the best.

The raccoon is a great analogy for the human tongue.  No matter how nicely we treat it, the tongue is often unpredictably wild.  James, the younger brother of Jesus, wrote, “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.  But no man can tame the tongue.” (James 3:7 – 8)

Some of us do a better job exerting dominion over wild animals, than this small body part that weighs less than 3 ounces.

The same tongue we use to praise God, express love to others and teach good things is capable of the opposite.  It can curse both God and man, break a heart, cause irreparable pain and teach prejudice.

I’m reminded of a little girl who had her arms wrapped tight around her father’s neck.  But her mother noticed she was sticking out her tongue at her little brother.  The mother’s response was swift.  ‘Take your arms from around your father’s neck.  You cannot love your father and at the same time be disrespectful of his son.”

Often people in positions of authority who teach/lead others are held to a higher standard.  Why?  Does our personal lack of significance justify hurtful words?  Every one of us teaches and leads others every day.  The same high standard applies to us all.

Anyone who thinks they can honor God and revile others, is deceiving no one.  Context really doesn’t matter at all.  Neither do words used to make others laugh.  Persuasive speech littered with profanity is an insult to God who made each one of the individuals being harmed through disrespect.

When others find our words offensive and condemning, there’s a problem.  Something that eminated from our tongue, failed to originate from the gentle, wise, life-affirming spirit that God created in each of us.   

The problem with worded insults, cursing and prejudice isn’t really the tongue that speaks them.  The real problem is the heart.  Jesus taught that, “the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile man.”

The words that come out of our mouths reveal the purity of the source.

Too often we ignore the nature and potential of our words, just like I ignored the raccoon family.  They killed Mr. Duck yesterday. 

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.”  (James 3:13)