Peter today talks about “the tongue”. Our words are incredibly powerful. With one sentence we can build someone up. With one sentence we can destroy someone. I would guess most of us have heard the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While familiar, this is not what scripture teaches. James writes,
3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.James 3:3–6 (NLT)
Peter just spoke about how we are to treat one another. We are to “love each other as brothers and sisters”, yet our words are so quick to interrupt this love. We can have every intention to love and care for our community of faith, but our words, like a rudder, direct our heart in relationship with others. How does this play out?
With all sincerity, many love our community of faith. New Hope is an awesome church with amazing people, of course! But as time goes on, it’s common to find that people don’t live up to our expectations of them. People we attend with, Community Group members, and even leaders, can fall short of what we perceive as acceptable. Then the tongue starts:
“I can’t believe they let their kids do that!”
“Why do they always talk when I’m trying to talk?”
“Why can’t they just (fill in the neverending blanks . . .)”
Little by little our hearts follow our tongues and the people we once loved lose their luster. Our words are powerful, and our affection can quickly follow our regular patterns of speech.
This section of scripture goes on to say, “Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” God calls us all to be Peacemakers.
9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.Matthew 5:9 (NLT)
We participate with our identity as brothers and sisters AND our identity as SONS AND DAUGHTERS to the extent that we pursue peace. Gossip, backbiting, and complaining may not seem like a big deal at the moment, but word by word we are walking away from the very relationships that Jesus died a bloody and brutal death to reconcile. Instead, what would it look like to extend grace with our words? By refraining from gossip, we could participate with blessing others; with encouragement we offer love and acceptance for those that are on the same journey we are on.
Is there a situation or habit pattern that this Scripture is identifying in you to draw you towards repentance? One of the most beautiful gifts of S.O.A.P. journaling is its ability to redirect our hearts. As you read and respond today, remember that just as God loves you, he loves ALL His creation so much that he sacrificed to see it reconciled to Himself. Let’s all strive for unity!
As a reminder, here are our steps for S.O.A.P.:
- Find a quiet place and read the SCRIPTURE of the day. Read it again. Read it slowly. Read it out loud!
- What OBSERVATIONS did you make? What does this passage teach you about God or yourself? Are there any calls to action? Do you have any questions?
- How will you make APPLICATION of this scripture and live your life differently today in light of what you just read? Be specific!
- Let it marinate. Take some time for PRAYER – thank God, confess any shortcomings, and ask to be empowered. Sit for a few moments and see if God has anything else for you.
Here is our passage for the day:
10 For the Scriptures say,1 Peter 3:10–12 (NLT)
“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the LORD turns his face
against those who do evil.”