Praise and Curses

Have you ever been to the ocean? Did you swim in it? Did some of the water splash into your mouth? If it did, did you notice the saltiness of it? The water in the ocean tastes significantly different than fresh water coming from a deep well, doesn’t it?

The way we speak can vary as much as the salty ocean and the fresh water from a well. We can be speaking praises one moment and cursing the next. What does this say about our nature? Perhaps it reveals a far deeper issue in our hearts than we like to admit.

Our culture has become a culture of no restraint. It has become a culture all about self. If we don’t like something or someone, we no longer look for a compromise, we simply condemn whatever or whomever we don’t like. We see it on social media. We see it on the news. We see it in our workplaces. We see it in our families. Is it any wonder there is more division in our country than ever?

What can be done? James tells us in today’s passage that we are not to be this way. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to a higher standard. We are not to sing praises to God, then curse our fellow human beings. We likely agree with James. In fact, we probably have thought this very thought, but have given up and said, “It is what it is.” It doesn’t have to be that way.

As we saw in yesterday’s message, our words come from our heart. This is especially true when we are caught off guard and immediately react. If you want to know what is firmly planted in your heart, reflect on what comes out of your mouth when someone does something you don’t like. Do you curse the other person, or do you ask God to work in that person’s life? Do you seek to understand why they did what they did, or do you condemn them?

Jesus saw this in the teachers of the law. He called them hypocrites (Matthew 23:25-26). He saw that they were putting on a show on the outside yet were full of greed and self-indulgence on the inside. He told them to clean up the inside first, rather than simply polish the outside for show.

We, too, are being hypocritical when we praise God, ask Him for blessings, and yet condemn our fellow man. We are play acting at being a follower of Jesus. To do what Jesus says, to clean the inside, we need to ask Him to clean it for us. When our inside, our heart, is clean, the outside will shine brightly, and we will reflect Jesus to those around us.

I pray we all ask Jesus to clean us from the inside out. I pray we stop condemning on another. I pray each of us reflect Jesus. Ask God to cleanse you. Ask Jesus to clean out the dirt in your heart. Give up being a hypocrite. Be a true reflection of Jesus.

James 3:9-11 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

Published by martypressey

Marty is a Pastor, retired Marine and dedicated Christian who has taught adult Bible classes and preached for 20 years. He currently serves as pastor of 3 United Methodist Churches. He believes being well-grounded in the Scriptures is key to living a better life. He brings a layman’s viewpoint to all his classes and sermons, helping others understand how to apply Scripture to their daily lives. When he sees others understand the message of a particular passage, it brings him great joy. He has seen his faith increase exponentially over the years; fully believing God has a plan and is executing it. He feels blessed to be part of that plan.

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