Grow Deep - Faith Works Vol 2 - Taming the Tongue - Week 1

Week One: October 7-13

Faith Works: Taming the Tongue

Memory Verse: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be!” James 3:10

While a relatively small minority of Americans use “Twitter” to communicate, nearly all of us receive daily “re-tweets.” We usually hear what public officials and celebrities are saying on Twitter from some other form of media—TV, radio, print, or direct conversation. Twitter can be useful to send information quickly. The downside is that most attention goes to those “re-tweets” that fall somewhere between the outrageous to the obscene.

This week James pleads with us to pause and apply God’s Word before we speak. And his talk of the tongue isn’t limited to speech. If James were among our generation, I’m convinced he would get specific about our emails and Facebook messages, Instagram and Snapchat posts, the Twitter and the talk radio forums, our vanity, our body language, and that insatiable appetite to repeat and re-tweet anything we hear. That’s why he begins chapter three with a bold hyperbole, “not many of you should become teachers.”

Don’t heed James’ words as career counseling! He’s not saying, “don’t teach” or “don’t speak!” He’s challenging us to become disciples whose speech in every form is controlled by the wisdom of God. By contrast, he says we are deadly to society and to our own spiritual well-being when our speech is not fully governed by our Heavenly Father. We meet Jesus in such submission. There we learn the depths of grace. Without grace, we are untamed animals that tear up the creation. You see that all the time spilling out in every media today. We have something … Someone … much better of whom to speak. We re-tweet grace.

Taking Jesus to the Streets:
It is certain that this week you are going to hear disturbing news, reckless talk, rude emails, Facebook rants, gossip, and controversial “re-tweets.” Your challenge is not to be silent, nor to react in kind. James challenges you to be controlled by the Spirit and intentional in your conversations. Seek God’s wisdom and specific occasions to “re-tweet grace.” Prepare by daily asking, “Where am I likely to hear troubling speech?” And, “How has God’s Word today prepared me to speak with grace?”


Sunday, October 7
Read: James 3:1-12
In this section of his writing, James continues to map out the way of discipleship as he addresses the necessity to control the tongue. He advocates control and discretion, not silence. James gives several illustrations of controlling the tongue. Pick one and picture your speech today under the Spirit’s control. How will this change, support, and bless your relationships? What specific thoughts is the Spirit calling you to restrain? Which is He calling you to express?

For the Family: Play a game with these words, “With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father” (suggestions: “Telephone,” “Hangman,” “Charades.”). Just as you searched for this phrase in your game, have your family search for ways to praise today and share that before bedtime.

Monday, October 8
Read: Proverbs 26:18-20
Solomon paints a picture of a person who is cruel in his speech toward another and then dismisses it as jest. There is danger in the words of the person who makes jokes or bears tales at the expense of another. What quarrels are circling your thoughts or relationships? What would add fuel to the fire? What wisdom or promise of Jesus could starve the fuel of these fires and soothe with grace?

For the Family: This Bible verse describes bad jokes and angry words like a fire. Can you think of a time when you hurt someone with words (even joking)? How do words hurt you? Think of words Jesus gives us that heal and put out fires. How can we use them more as a family?


Tuesday, October 9
Read: Matthew 15:16-20
Jesus says our diet impacts our waistline and health, but our spiritual diet impacts our heart and eternity. How are you feeding your soul/heart? Where’s the junk food? Where’s the meat? What are the benefits and blessings of a healthy spiritual diet?

 For the Family: This is a graphic passage for children, but an opportunity to take small, age-appropriate steps to talk about how angry, violent words are sinful and do real harm to others and ourselves. Talk about ways that your talk and actions can honor the Fifth Commandment. You might use these words from Luther’s Small Catechism as a place to start: “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.”


Wednesday, October 10
Read: Ephesians 4:25-32
These two paragraphs give volumes of godly counsel for living in grace. Which words speak most directly to your concerns today? How do they convict and challenge you? How do they forgive you? How will they direct your words and actions today?

For the Family: Consider doing this devotion after a meal. Read the Bible verse before you clear the table. Then as you clear the table together, talk about why you wash dishes. Why is that a good idea? How does Jesus wash us clean? How does Jesus help us “clean up” each other as a family? What does it mean for our family to NOT “let the sun go down while you are still angry?”


Thursday, October 11
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:21-31
God created the body to work in perfect harmony, one part with another. And the Spirit gives each gift designed to work today in the Body. How do you specifically hear the Spirit saying to you in the passage, “I love, value and need you?” How have you echoed the same (by word or deed) in your relationships this week? Who have you pushed away? How will the Spirit’s affirmations govern your speech and relationships today?

For the Family: This is a fun passage to intentionally speak and affirm children. No matter how old or young, weak or strong, advanced in learning, athletics or skills, we all are loved, valued, and needed in the family of God. Ask your child(ren) what things they have done at home or church that helped them feel valued in God’s family? What would they like to try? How can they tell other children they are loved, valued, and needed in God’s family?

Friday, October 12
Read: 1 Timothy 4:11-16
Paul charges Timothy to lead an exemplary life and use the gifts given to him by the Spirit as he succeeds Paul in leading the church in Ephesus. The first of the virtues Paul charged Timothy to live by was speech. On this week when we have meditated on the activity of our tongue, ask yourself: What are some of the gifts God has given to me? How do these gifts impact my words and relationships? How will my speech today “save both myself and my hearers?”

 For the Family: Paul was a teacher to Timothy and saw his many gifts. He told Timothy about his gifts and prayed out loud, even laying hands on him! Take turns telling the gifts you see in each other. Then lay your hand on each other’s head or shoulder and say aloud, “I thank God for your gifts. God bless you as you use them today.”


Saturday, October 13
Read: Psalm 19:7-14
David outlines six things that God’s Word does when we treasure it in our hearts. Then, he ends this Psalm with a prayer that the words of his mouth and meditations of his heart will be pleasing to God. Practice memorizing verse 14, “May the words of my mouth …” Write it. Speak it into a conversation. Pray it in a quiet place. Find something to do with it as many times as you can today. How will these words affirm the promises of God in you? How will they impact your speech?

 For the Family: As described above, find as many ways as possible to speak and memorize this verse. Be creative! Use sidewalk chalk and art projects. Post a family Facebook picture using the verse. Talk about how much God smiles when our words reflect Him.