An UpWord Glance

Taming That Little Flapper

Today’s Epistle reading is from James 3:1-10. The photo, which was taken on a backpack on the Continental Divide Trail, reminded me of this passage. After informing us that the tongue is a fire, St. James continues with these words:

“The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.” (James 3)

Have you ever experienced your mouth responding to something before your mind has thought about the ramifications? I usually don’t like making generalizations, but I will go out on a limb and state that all of us have experience with this. If fact, it is likely to happen today if I don’t watch my mouth closely.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)

Once a word leaves our mouth, it can never be taken back. There have been times when no sooner than I said something, I regretted it. But it was too late…the word had been spoken. We can say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it,” but the damage was done.

St. Arsenius put it this way: “I have always something to repent for after having talked, but have never been sorry for having been silent. Many times, I spoke and regretted what I said, but about silence I will never have any regret.”

Controlling our tongue is so very difficult. In fact, St. James calls it impossible for a human being (read all of James chapter 3):

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8)

Fortunately, our God is the God of the impossible. By that I mean that we can enter into the life-long battle to control our tongue. It is likely to be not just life-long, but a day to day or even a moment-by-moment battle for many of us. Here is one weapon I personally have found so very helpful in this battle to control that little flapper.

I recommend you try this in your morning prayers (or any time for that matter):

Make the sign of the cross over your mouth and ask Jesus to be the Lord of your tongue and every word that comes out of your mouth.

This really does work, but it is not a one-time fix. It will need to be repeated often. If you know you are heading for a conversation with someone with whom your little flapper will want to be “lord”, do this before you see them. I have recommended doing this to some of the most hardened prisoners that wanted to quit cussing. Everyone of them, after doing it, said something along the lines of: “Wow, how does that work?” Today is a great time to try this out for yourself and see what happens.

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