Afterward, Part One
Guard Your Tongue
James, Chapters 1-2
I suspect that many subjects that James dealt with in this book eventually pointed back to ‘the tongue’, because the tongue seemed to have overarching themes. Because of that, I wanted to do a follow up overview on the subject of the tongue James dealt with in this work.
In James 3:6 he wrote, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”
I did two years of college after I graduated from high school and because I couldn’t decide which (of five) subjects I wanted to major in, I got stuck. About that time I was offered a job as a Railroad Clerk working for the Frisco Railroad in Kansas City, Kansas. It was a union job and was such a great opportunity that I took the job. As it turned out, the job required extensive training, so I ended up going to railroad school.
My Grandpa (Mac) worked for the railroad as a machinist all his life and my grandpa got a kick out of the fact that his GRANDDAUGHTER went to work for the railroad. He was born in 1899, and in his day that was unheard of!
It was my first real job. Just before I went off to Springfield, Missouri to attend railroad school, I started dating someone. Several months later I accepted his proposal and planned to marry that next year.
When I started my railroad job I was given two pieces thin rope (to tie up my pant lags so the rats couldn’t crawl up your legs), a railroad lantern, and a narrow writing pad so I could write down the car numbers as the train entered the yard (old school). In general a few of the old timers in the yard were pretty accepting of a very short young girl but not all the men were happy I was on the team.
I had always thought (and been told) that women were #1 when it came to engaging in gossip.
I’d never had much time for gossiping while I was in high school and college. I have ways been a pretty serious student and my grades mattered (a lot). I didn’t have time for chit-chat or gossip.
What I discovered when I worked for the railroad is that the women I knew who did gossip didn't ‘hold a candle’ to these men. I realize it could have been an isolated case, but from my experience I found out women were amateurs when it came to gossiping.
These men were professional gossipers. Granted most of the comments made about women referred to body parts, but it was gossip. They didn’t relegate their gossip to women only…they also talked about other men.
Their tongues wagged about anything and everything, especially the women who had been hired to work alongside them. The year was 1973 and they were not happy that women were hired to do ‘man’s work.’ Because they talked about the other women who had been hired I figured out that when I wasn’t there, I was probably included in on the list of women who were stupid and did stupid things. After working there for several years I’d say there was only one man who consistently helped me and probably didn’t talk about me behind my back.
When I started studying the book of James I realized that in the 1st Century when James talked about members of his congregation letting their tongues wag, he was talking about the men. In that century, women were barely given any consideration. The only exception to that rule was the women Jesus interacted with. Jesus treated all people equal and elevated the status of women and children whenever He had the chance.
A few of the verses related to the tongue in Chapters 1-2 included:
James 1:19-20, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
James 1:21-22, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
James 1:26, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”
James 2:12-13, “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
James 2:14-16, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit.”
Another fact about the first century is that only men went to school. Women were not taught to read. That kinda puts a different light on who those things were written to, right?
While the women (from the back) could have heard the reading, the words were primarily written to men.
Of course, that is not the case today. Women are educated. Today, those words apply to women and men.
Guard your tongue.
That’s what Jesus would do.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Guard Your Tongue
Consider what it means to you to guard your tongue. Ask the Spirit to help you by reminding you when you forget.
In Jesus, Deborah