The attached picture was taken in a little fishing village in Cornwall, England on the south western coast. The town is call Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel) and it is just about that big – the size of a mouse hole. We walked to Mousehole from the slightly larger village where we were staying. My husband is the one who saw the sign first and laughed. Look at the very carefully detailed language used to kindly ask people not to feed the seagulls. I suspect in our country the sign would simply say, “Don’t feed the birds!”
I think words are important. Words give important information. Words teach. Words entertain us with stories and clever turns of phrase. Words communicate our feelings: “I’m angry!” “I’m sad.” “I love you.” Words can move us to tears of joy, enable us to experience beauty, and lead us into war. I think it’s wise to be careful with our words.
The apostle James, who wrote one of the letters at the back of our New Testament, is believed to have been the Lord Jesus’ brother. James had some challenging things to say about words.
2 All of us often make mistakes. But if a person never makes a mistake in what he says, he is perfect and is also able to control his whole being. 3 We put a bit into the mouth of a horse to make it obey us, and we are able to make it go where we want. 4 Or think of a ship: big as it is and driven by such strong winds, it can be steered by a very small rudder, and it goes wherever the pilot wants it to go. 5 So it is with the tongue: small as it is, it can boast about great things. Just think how large a forest can be set on fire by a tiny flame! 6 And the tongue is like a fire. It is a world of wrong, occupying its place in our bodies and spreading evil through our whole being. It sets on fire the entire course of our existence with the fire that comes to it from hell itself. 7 We humans are able to tame and have tamed all other creatures—wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 8 But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. (James 3: 2 – 8)
James words are a little harsh at points, but I believe he speaks the truth. Who hasn’t said something they regretted later? Our words can really get us into trouble. Alternatively our words can build up, can offer praise and can inspire someone to trust in God!
I invite you today to think of something kind and affirming to say to someone with whom you live. Think also of some words of gratitude and wonder to say to the Lord who loves you so.
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