September 1, 2009
"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters [and girlfriends] this should not be" (James 3:9-10 TNIV).
Friend To Friend
Catherine and I set out for a lazy summer stroll through the neighborhood just before the fireflies emerged to celebrate the setting of the sun. We chatted about raising boys, working husbands, and decorating dilemmas. When we arrived back at her house, she invited me to come in and look at some fabric swatches for a new sofa. Before I knew it, a few minutes turned into a couple of hours.
"Oh, my!" I exclaimed. "It's ten o'clock. I've been gone for over two hours! I bet Steve's worried sick. He doesn't even know where I am. I'd better give him a call before I start back home."
When I dialed the number, the answering machine picked up. After I listened to my sweet Southern greeting, I left a bitter message.
"Steve, I was calling to let you know I'm at Catherine's. I thought you'd be worried, but apparently you don't even care because you won't even pick up the phone!" Click. I said my goodbyes to Catherine and left feeling somewhat dejected. I'm wandering around in the dark all alone and he doesn't even care, I mumbled to no one in particular.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed someone coming toward me. It was Sir Galahad riding on his steed…his bicycle!
"Where have you been?" Steve desperately asked. "I've been riding all over the neighborhood looking for you! Do you know what time it is?"
"Oh you do care," I said with a grin, giving him a big hug.
"What are you talking about?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing. Let's go home." I answered.
When we got back home, I quickly erased the message on the machine before Steve could hear my reprimanding words. "Whew," I thought, "That was close."
A few days later, Steve called me from work.
"Sharon, have you listened to the answering machine lately?"
"Well, I think there's something on there you need to hear."
We hung up and I reached for my cell phone to call my home phone. The message on the answering machine went something like this.
(The voice of a Sweet Southern Belle) "Hello, you've reached the Jaynes' residence. We're unable to answer the phone right now… (enter the voice of Cruella de Vil) "I was calling to let you know I'm at Katherine's. I thought you'd be worried, but apparently you don't even care because you won't pick up the phone! (Return of Sweet Southern Bell) At the sound of the beep, leave your number and we'll get back with you as soon as possible." Beep.
"Oh, my goodness!" I screamed. "How did this happen! How many people have heard this over the past three days?"
I called the phone company and they explained that sometimes during a thunderstorm (which had occurred three days prior), lightening strikes the wires and answering machine messages get scrambled. The old message somehow got attached to the greeting.
I was mortified. It sounded like Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde reincarnate.
"Lord," I prayed. "This is so embarrassing."
"Yes, it is," He replied.
Well, He didn't really say that in so many words. It was more like this. "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, 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" (James 3:9-12 TNIV).
"OK Lord, I get the message." I prayed. But unfortunately, so did a lot of other people.
As women, I am amazed how quickly we can flit back and forth between blessing and belittling, praising and putting-down, cheering and critiquing - all in a matter of seconds. God has given us incredible power in our sphere of influence, and it begins with the words we speak. Few forces have as powerful an effect as the sounds that pass our lips. Our words can spark a child to accomplish great feats, encourage a husband to conquer the world, fan the dying embers of a friend's broken dreams into a flame, encourage a fellow believer to run the race set before her, and draw a lost soul to Christ.
My devotions for the month of September will focus on our words. I invite you to explore one of the mysteries of the feminine mystique - the power of a woman's words. Are words powerful? Yes! Just how powerful? We'll learn together. Let's take a look at one of God's most incredible gifts to mankind and consider the potential we have right under our noses…words.
Dear Heavenly Father, oh how I have a difficult time controlling my tongue! I pray that you will put a guard over my mouth. Help me to think before I speak. I pray the Holy Spirit will take control of my words and use me as an instrument of encouragement.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
A word has been described as the smallest unit of meaningful linguistic communication. But that little tiny entity has great potential.
Read James 3:2-6 and answer the following questions.
How is the tongue like the rudder of a ship?
Who is the ship? (There is not necessarily a right answer.)
On any given day, there are many travelers on our ship (our families and friends) or people we pass on the waterways of life. How do our words carry people along the same route we are traveling? How do our words maneuver or bump into those that are passing by?
To comment on today's devotion, visit www.sharonjaynes.com/blog. You can read other Girlfriend's comments as well!
More From The Girlfriends
Today's devotion is taken from Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Words and The Power of a Woman's Words Bible Study. There is great power in the words we speak and the people we impact. If you would like to learn more about how to harness this powerful resource and use your words for good, this book will be a great resource. Why not get a group of girlfriends together and learn about The Power of a Woman's Words together!
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