“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2
The last few months my youngest daughter has been babysitting at our house a couple of days a week for a friend’s baby. This baby is the cutest baby ever, and she is so good natured, so happy, so easy, it almost makes me wish I could have a baby again (no, not really!!) – well, I have grand-children for that!! ANYway, even though she is one of the best babies ever, every once in a while she will start to cry, and we know that when she cries, something is wrong, and by trial and error, process of elimination we figure out what is wrong and fix it. It could be that her diaper is dirty, or she is hungry, or has gas and needs to burp, or, or she wants some loving and attention, or she is just tired and cranky and wants her Mommy and Daddy. As children get older, sometimes they just cry because they are selfish and not getting what they want. Nevertheless, there is always a reason why the baby is crying.
My husband has being going through the book of James in his Adult Sunday School class, and we have just finished up a section on the tongue (James 1:26, 3:1-12), and it reminded me of a devotion I did several years ago. It was about when our tongue is out of control, and I named it, “When the Baby Cries”. Just as there are many reasons why a baby cries, there are also many reasons why it seems like our mouth is running over with things that it ought not to be saying. When a baby cries, it is good to go through the list of possible things that could be wrong until we find the reason why our tongue is out of control. The reasons that we neglect to curb our tongue can be correlated with the reasons that a baby cries:
- Her diaper is dirty – When a baby’s diaper is dirty, we quickly take off the offending “nappy” (British term for diaper), clean the baby up, put on a new diaper, and place that diaper in the trash where we will never look at it again. When we have unconfessed sin in our lives, it affects our heart, and what is in the heart comes out of our mouths (Matthew 15:18). We need to deal with sin quickly – “put it off”, and then “put on” the new man(Ephesians 4:22-25) – clean ourselves up, repent, and never indulge in that sin again. Sin makes us defensive in our speech, it makes us lie, and retaliate with sharp comments and criticisms of others. We need to humble ourselves, confess our sins and repent, God promises to cleanse and forgive us – Praise Him for His mercy (Psalm 53; 1 John 1:9)!
- She is hungry – When a baby is hungry, she starts crying, and the crying gets louder and louder until that hunger is satisfied. When we are not spending enough time in the Word of God, we can quickly start acting and talking foolishly. God’s Word cleanses us (John 15:3), makes us wise (2 Timothy 3:15), makes us holy (John 17:17), helps us grow in our walk with the Lord (1 Peter 2:2), keeps us on God’s path (2 Timothy 3:16), keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:11), and puts a song in our hearts (Colossians 3:16), just to name a few things!! So, if your tongue is out of control, it may be that your soul is hungry for the Word of God (Matthew 5:6).
- She has gas – When a baby has gas, we have to pat their back and work that gas bubble up until it erupts out of her mouth. When we are too wrapped up in the world, its entertainment, its philosophies, and its influence eventually that worldly “gas bubble” will erupt out of our mouth, because we are becoming a friend of the world (James 4:4). What is in our heart and mind will come out of our mouths. Just as leaven in hot, fresh baked bread swells in your stomach and gives terrible gas pains, so the leaven of sin in our lives makes us puffed up and gives us terrible conscience pains. When we are too saturated by the world, we tend to get defensive in our speech and are quick to retaliate with sharp comments and criticisms of others. So, STOP loving the world, as John told us! (1 John 2:15).
- She needs comfort and understanding – Sometimes a baby cries because she just feels lonely and needs comfort. Sometimes when we feel lonely and misunderstood, we tend to strike out against others. The Lord is our comforter, He is the God of all comfort 2 Corinthians 1:3,4), but He can only comfort us if we go to Him, spend time in His presence in prayer, and allow Him to give us peace and rest. We need to spend time before the throne of Grace to find help in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15,16). Sometimes we need to extend understanding and empathy to others, and be as forgiving of their slips of tongue as we expect them to be of ours (Ephesians 4:32).
- She is just being selfish – As babies get older, they learn to manipulate us with their crying, they realize that when they cry they get attention, and they get what they want. Often, we say things to attract attention to ourselves, and we use our tongues to manipulate others to give us what we want. Our mouth tends to get out of control when we are being prideful and thinking only of our own needs. We need to stop thinking about ourselves and put others first (Philippians 2:1-5).
So, Is your tongue out of control? Do you find yourself wishing you could take back the things that come out of your mouth? Do you feel challenged as I do, to take a look at your life, and find out why the baby is crying? Thankfully, our God is merciful and quick to forgive when we confess and repent – He must get tired of hearing me say, “Sorry, Lord, there goes my tongue again!” Let’s beg him together to “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips“ (Psalm 141:3).
I hope this devotional has been a little reminder to you, as it has to me, to search your heart and see what has wormed its way into your heart and begun to defile you. You can have control over your tongue, with the Holy Spirit’s help, He will help you.
~Graced and Grateful Grammy
Lord, put your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth