I read in the book of James last night. In chapter 3 James writes (after warning people against taking teaching positions in the church!)
We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
Well, I can definitely relate to stumbling in many ways, but it was this part about what one says that got my attention. “If anyone is never at fault in what he says…” If only! My first thought was to read on thinking no one meets that criteria. But I didn’t move on. Why was this verse here? Was it only so that people like me could read it and acknowledge how we fall short of another standard? There had to be more.
Then I thought, let’s just say someone was never at fault in what he said. What kind of man would that be? Are we just talking about a strong-willed, behavior-controlled person that regardless of the thoughts on the inside was able to control himself so that he didn’t let slip out those dark things that he thought sometimes?
Then I remembered that Jesus had said something about the mouth and words too. I found it in Matthew 15:
What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’…But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. -Jesus in Matthew 15:11-19
So what kind of person is never at fault in what he says? It can’t be an outward, control-what-you-say kind of person, but rather someone who at a heart level has had a whole lot of God working with him at the core of his brokenness. It’s inward out, not outward in, Jesus is saying. This was a good reminder for a guy who’s done a pretty good job of preserving a good image, but has often struggled to let God deal deeply with his heart.