Sundays are my absolute favorite day of the week! It’s Game Day for this church girl. This Sunday we continued our study of RESPECT in the book of James. Now, I personally LOVE James. His book is one of my favorites because he is straight strong black coffee…no cream and sugar to ease his message down. I admire this greatly because I am exactly the opposite. Truth…this is what my coffee looks like:
Let me clarify what you are seeing. This is not coffee from Starbucks or any other such fancy-schmancy shop. This is what I make at home. Every day. Two-thirds coffee/one-third flavored creamer (this is caramel macchiato, though the flavor of the creamer often changes) with whipped cream on top. Sometimes I add cinnamon. Opposite of strong, black, in your face? I think yes.
While I am a true fan of James, the idea of sharing his book with children doesn’t exactly make me run grab my pom poms. I mean, immediately after he welcomes us in with greetings, James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” There are no rainbows here. No slingshots of glory. Simply James, standing in the front of the classroom, giving us a list of “rules” to follow as Christians. Keep in mind, if you will, this lesson was also being taught immediately following the first week of school. For some, it was the first week of school EVER. Maybe this picture of our adorable kindergarten group will give you a vague idea of what I was up against. Cute to the core? Yes. Ready to embrace black coffee James? Hmmm. I see many emotions here…tired, scared, in the spotlight, needing the bathroom. But I’m not sure I see a face ready for the Man of Steel. And yet, we plunge into James 3!
Bottom Line: Respect Others With Your Words
Bible Verse: Show proper respect to everyone. 1 Peter 2:17a
We began our lesson by tangling our tongues with a few old favorite tongue twisters. You know the deal: “She sells seashells by the seashore.” And “Toy boat. Toy boat. Toy boat.” The lesson also suggested this one: “Comical economists. Comical economists.” Interesting choice, you think?
After untangling our tongues, we dove into James 3 to discover the full power of this muscle. James tells us in 3:5 “…the tongue is a small part of the body. But it brags a lot. Think about how a small spark can set a big forest on fire.” I wonder…have you thought about that intently? I don’t know about you, but I can pinpoint spoken words – both positive and negative – that have set my world on fire. I picture that image, and it makes such sense, doesn’t it? Words are powerful. They can blaze a trail or burn a bridge. And here’s the thing…we get to choose which power we give our words. It’s important for our children to understand this about the words they speak. It’s important they learn to use this power for good. Just look at these guys. They have so much goodness inside of them to share out loud!
James continues in 3:9-10 “With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. With our tongues we call down curses on people. We do it even though they have been created to be like God. Praise and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it shouldn’t be that way.” I love the ending here. Simple and direct. It shouldn’t be that way. But it is, isn’t it? We are incapable of looking at people and seeing the face of God. Instead of seeing Him, we see the things that drive us crazy and we question worth and we make our humanly judgements and our mouths submit.
What if, instead, we meditated on Psalm 19:14: “Lord, may the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in your eyes.”? What if we daily lived Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:29: “Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs.”?
The truth is…words have power to break far beyond that of sticks and stones. Bones heal, rather quickly even. But words hurt the heart, and those wounds can remain for a lifetime. I’m sure you are well aware of this.
So…a bit of Frozen wisdom. Is your child a fan of the movie? Has your family personally choreographed routines to the soundtrack, like mine? This movie has played in the background of my motherly duties more times than I can count. If you have experienced something similar in your house, perhaps you remember the words of dear Grand Pabbie when Anna’s family brings her to him for healing: “You are lucky it wasn’t her heart. The heart is not so easily changed…” Profound for a troll, I think. And so true. And there’s more. Later he tells Anna, “There is ice in your heart, put there by your sister. If not removed, to solid ice will you freeze, forever.” Say what you will about Disney movies, but there are moments, I tell you… Maybe you remember that in this same scene Grand Pabbie declares “only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.”
Unfortunately, it is true that words can break us, can freeze us, can burn us from the inside. But, friends, we have long been given this act of true love. The act of true love that far surpasses any other ever given or ever to be given. I ponder this love Jesus gave me and you and these awesome kids right here…
…and I know that it is my responsibility not just to use my words kindly, but to share Jesus’ love so big and warm and sincere that they (and you!) drink it in like medicine. Sigh. I must remember this.
I wish I could tell you that this lesson was amazing and powerful and the kids walked out committed to using their words kindly. But, alas, real life doesn’t always work that way, does it? Sunday felt…distracted and a little chaotic maybe. Fun, always. But, I’m not sure children absorbed the truth of it all. I didn’t even send home the weekly Parent Cue connection. Forgive me. My hope is that the seed was planted, and we can continue growing it up together. And always, that they want to return next week.
I love these kids. Their smiles bring me joy every week and make me excited for Game Day. Thank you for sharing them with me.
P.S. I fully understand the power of words…and as such, writing this post took me longer than it should have! Which is why it is later than I intended. And so I share with you my truth: