Day 36: This Should Not Be
“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? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
From the moment we entered this world as bundles of joy, we had a present and overwhelming internal sin problem. We can’t hope our way out of it or behave our way to a new reality. We are drenched in sin and our only hope is the redeeming and transforming rescue of Jesus.
At Christmas time we celebrate the true story of God entering the world as a bundle of joy with one aim. To solve our sin problem. And he did just that. He solved our death sentence and everlasting separation from God. He solved the problem of our massive debt and impossible payment. He solved our hopeless condition. Praise Jesus, he is our eternal solution and our strength between now and eternity. And James points out one very convicting way that sin shows up in our lives over and over again as we seek after holiness.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. As followers of Jesus, this is the height of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. As uncomfortable as it is to admit, we do this all the time don’t we? We can leave a worship service where we’ve praised God only to curse and criticize people made in his image before we’ve made it to the car. This is detestable to God in the same way any of us would be incensed at the audacity of someone to speak ill of our child or family member.
So why do we do it? Because there are parts of our hearts where sin remains a problem. The tongue, and our misuse of it can often be the sin that so easily entangles. (Heb. 12:1) We can’t tweak things a little and course correct our way out of this one. We don’t just modify our behavior and promise to do better. We need to be rescued from ourselves and have our words and hearts transformed by the Spirit. And we must submit to him by dying daily to this temptation that leads us to curse those made in the likeness of God while elevating ourselves above them. Brothers and sisters, this should not be.
Father, fresh water and salt water can’t flow from the same spring. Please convict us of the ways we’re acting in hypocrisy and being unfaithful to who you’ve called us to be. Deepen our love for those around us and help us see everyone as an image bearer and treat them as such.