1 Chronicles 16 & James 3

1 Chronicles 16

    And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.

    Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel. Asaph was the chief, and second to him were Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, who were to play harps and lyres; Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers.

    Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
        make known his deeds among the peoples!
    Sing to him, sing praises to him;
        tell of all his wondrous works!
    Glory in his holy name;
        let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
    Seek the LORD and his strength;
        seek his presence continually!
    Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
        his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
    O offspring of Israel his servant,
        children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
    
    He is the LORD our God;
        his judgments are in all the earth.
    Remember his covenant forever,
        the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
    the covenant that he made with Abraham,
        his sworn promise to Isaac,
    which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
        to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
    saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan,
        as your portion for an inheritance.”
    
    When you were few in number,
        of little account, and sojourners in it,
    wandering from nation to nation,
        from one kingdom to another people,
    he allowed no one to oppress them;
        he rebuked kings on their account,
    saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
        do my prophets no harm!”
    
    Sing to the LORD, all the earth!
        Tell of his salvation from day to day.
    Declare his glory among the nations,
        his marvelous works among all the peoples!
    For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
        and he is to be feared above all gods.
    For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
        but the LORD made the heavens.
    Splendor and majesty are before him;
        strength and joy are in his place.
    
    Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
        ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
    Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
        bring an offering and come before him!
    Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
        tremble before him, all the earth;
        yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
    Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
        and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
    Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
        let the field exult, and everything in it!
    Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
        before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
    Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
        for his steadfast love endures forever!
    
        Say also:

    “Save us, O God of our salvation,
        and gather and deliver us from among the nations,
    that we may give thanks to your holy name
        and glory in your praise.
    Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
        from everlasting to everlasting!”
    
        Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.

    So David left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister regularly before the ark as each day required, and also Obed-edom and his sixty-eight brothers, while Obed-edom, the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah were to be gatekeepers. And he left Zadok the priest and his brothers the priests before the tabernacle of the LORD in the high place that was at Gibeon to offer burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, to do all that is written in the Law of the LORD that he commanded Israel. With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever. Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were appointed to the gate.

    Then all the people departed each to his house, and David went home to bless his household.

(1 Chronicles 16 ESV)

James 3

    Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

    How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

    Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

(James 3 ESV)

Something to Consider

James 3: Just to be clear, the popular jingle, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie that contradicts what Scripture has to say about the power of our words. As Christian parents and adults, let's not patronize our children with any nonsense that says words are powerless over us. We have great power to hurt others with our words, and we ourselves will inevitably be hurt by the words of others so let’s not pretend any different.

If we truly want to protect and encourage others to overcome the harmfulness of words then lets have honest discussions about the hurt experienced from harmful speech. Telling the lie that “words should never hurt you” can lead those that are hurt to feel as if they are weak or the ones who are in the wrong. They can falsely accuse themselves of being too defensive and then begin the destructive habit of concealing their hearts and covering up their hurt because they are charged with “taking things too seriously.”

In his letter, James describes how our words and the way in which we use them can exercise dominion over our lives and the lives of others. They have a way of controlling, consuming and contaminating our character if we aren’t careful in harnessing their power.

Like a tiny rudder that possess the power to control a massive ship, our words possess the power to guide our life’s course for good or for evil. The things that we say and how we say them will directly influence and impact the direction that all of our relationships take. 

And as words possess the power to control the course of our life and our relationships, they also possess the power to destructively consume everything in their path when used carelessly. Like a spark that sets a forest on fire, words that are spoken carelessly rarely, if ever, remain isolated into one particular area or stay contained within the one initial moment that they were spoken. They can be a source of destruction that is leveraged by the spiritual forces of hell to cause massive destruction that spreads like wildfire.

How many miseries could we bring, how many hearts could we break, how many tears could we cause, how many reputations could we ruin, how much bitterness could we arouse, how much shame could we bring, and how many destructive paths could we lead others down simply through the things we chose to say at any given moment? The price we could pay for the careless use of our words is enormous!

We as sinful man do not possess the ability or strength to harness the power of our words without the help of the Holy Spirit transforming the source from which they flow (our hearts). 

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 
(Luke 6:45)

Without the Spirit’s help in transforming our hearts, our words can become a deadly poison that contaminates our character. We naturally gossip, manipulate, lie, exaggerate, belittle, criticize and deceive others by the things that we say. We even fall into the disgusting hypocrisy of praising God and cursing others with the same mouth. This kind of worship of God contaminated with contempt towards others is unacceptable and should become unnatural behavior for the true Christian disciple.

Therefore, those who seek to truly honor and worship God will harness the power possessed by their words in order to truly glorify God and bless others.

James’ warns us to not speak too quickly lest we stumble in what we say. Let’s avoid approaching moments of confrontation without considering our words cautiously and carefully. None of us have the right to just say whatever we want to say because we will all be held accountable for the words we choose to use. Therefore, lets heed James’ warning and accept responsibility for our words harnessing these small flames to warm hearts instead of burning them.