Your real heart us showing
"Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?" James 3:11
James expands his teaching in this chapter to deal with the testing of the true spiritual condition of our inner being. First we are given a description of the revealing character of our words. And secondly James explains what we learn about ourselves by looking at the sources we seek for direction in our lives.
Given enough time, our words inevitably reveal the true character of our souls. James warns those who teach spiritual truth that they will be tested by the things they teach and the heart condition that gives birth to their words. Tests revealing a heart and mind trained and led by God prove spiritual maturity. The people who respond appropriately are born of God (v. 1-2).
The power of the tongue to produce good or evil is described as a powerful forcelike a horse's bridle, a ship's rudder or a raging fire. The small bit controls a large horse. A great ship is turned by a small rudder, and a massive forest fire begins with a spark. Likewise, our tongue, the words we use, can turn hate into love or love into hate. Our words can calm a storm or create a tornado.
James asks us to face the obvious conclusions that are to be drawn from our words. They either come from a fruitful, living faith in Christ or a barren heart ruled by our sinful nature (v. 3-10). The fruit produced always reveals the type of tree from which it came (v. 12). Therefore, when tried and tested in life's many unplanned encounters, the true character of our hearts eventually will be exposed by the words we speak. If we find our words expose a corrupt heart, we are immediately faced with a decision concerning what we will do about it. Either we will falsely justify our words and leave the poisonous source untouched, or face it with repentance. If we are unwilling to tear out the roots of pride, bitterness, hatred, etc. from our inner being we will continue to defile others and ourselves with our damaging words.
The second example deals with acknowledging the source of our world-view. Just as our words indicate much about our inner being, the source of the wisdom we rely on to pattern our lives is always revealed in the results it produces. "Wisdom" that does not find its source in God will ultimately result in bitter envy, selfish ambition, confusion, and an unending pattern of evil. This wisdom originates in the demonic influences appealing to our fallen nature. (v. 13-16).
In contrast, if the words we speak come with meekness, gentleness, and selfless yielding to what's best for others, our words are proven to be rooted in God. If the wisdom we seek also results in love and kindness, and creates peace and fruit that is both good and abundant (v. 17-18) we can be sure it is from God who gives abundant wisdom to all who ask. Life in a fallen world provides abundant opportunities to test and thus reveal the true nature of our hearts. Therefore, let's aim to face ourselves in light of the results that come from our words and wisdom. This test is not intended to leave us condemned. Instead God seeks to use it to move us, to transform our inner being through the provisions of Christ within us. God already knows all there is to know about us. Trials that reveal the true condition of our hearts help us face what God already knows. Why not face ourselves and let grace do its transforming work, beginning today?
-Calvary Church Boise
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