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Friday, September 2, 2011

The Book You Write

3-5A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
(James 3:3-5)

Each one of us has the ability to lay a foundation by the words we speak.  The foundation can be one of strength, or be something that is shoddy and of no value.  We build upon the foundation that is laid - a building without a foundation is really not very secure.  I have often taught that what we think is the foundation for our actions - it influences what we become!  That is why it is so important to recognize that we need to make active choices about what occupies our minds.

Our passage today speaks to us of "control" over our speech.  How does this relate to a "foundation"?  Simple - the words we speak are foundational to all our relationships!  I once heard it said that we speak enough words in ONE day to fill the pages of a 50-page journal.  If you do the math, that equates to about 90 books (average of 200 pages each) that would fill our bookshelves!  That is is a whole lot of words!  As I sit here this morning, I am glancing over to my bookshelves and see that 90 books would take up about 2 1/2 shelves in my 3 foot wide bookshelf!

The question I have for us today is simply this:  What book will you write today?  You WILL write a book today - but the choice of the content of that book is entirely yours.  James tells us that there is significant power in our words.  That is probably why we also have heard it said that words spoken are hardly forgotten.  What we speak matters!  If we remember that words are foundational to relationship, we begin to understand the impact we make in what is built in the relationship simply by the choice of what gets spoken!

It is not an easy concept, but it is important to remember that the control of the tongue begins in the mind.  We cannot "bridle" our tongue without a controlled thought life.  Try as we might, we will struggle with our choice of words until God's Spirit gets control of our thoughts!  When we are all over the place in our thought life - up one day and down the next - we cannot be exhibiting much stability in our speech!  An unbridled mind equates to an unbridled mouth.  

If you are like me, you have probably said something, then wanted to pull it back into your mouth as quickly as you have said it!  Critical words that carry a cutting tone to them are just one example of what I am referring to.  As soon as I voiced them, I damaged the foundation of the relationship.  It may not have been a "huge" crack in the foundation, but it was a "stress-fracture" nonetheless.  Too many "stress-fractures" make for a bigger "fracture" later on!

Whenever our mind becomes "set" on a certain course of thinking, we are said to have a "mindset".  Did you know that what you allow to come into your minds the most is what you will likely set your mind toward?  That is why scripture is so intent on warning us about paying close attention to what it is we allow into our thought life.  Those thoughts eventually form a mindset and that mindset begins to be evident in our speech.

James speaks of a bridled tongue - I want us to begin to think of having a bridled mind, as well.  Thought so where they are directed to go - just as a horse goes where it is directed through the use of the bridle.  It is almost impossible to think one thing and do another - if we are able to do it, it is usually with insincerity of heart! 

So, today, we begin to take a look at the book we write with the words we speak.  Tomorrow, we will explore this a little more.  Until then, begin to ask God to show you what it is you are allowing into your mind the most.  If it is honoring, uplifting, and peaceful, it is likely the right stuff.  If it is fault-finding, bitter, and critical, it is likely the wrong stuff.  If we want to produce better "word books", we need to begin by getting control of our "mind books"!