Journal Prov 17 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out…Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Prov 17:14, 27-28
Observation: There is a high correlation between my mouth and being wise. Doesn’t matter what I have learned, what I know, what few times I demonstrate godly wisdom—if I don’t learn how to control my tongue and my emotions (being of cool spirit), I am not and should not be considered wise.
Analysis: Where does strife begin? Maybe the same place where quarrels begin? James:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear…slow to speak…slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God…. If anyone thinks he is religious (devout, pious, or godly), and does not bridle his tongue (but deceives his heart), this person’s religion is worthless.” James 1:19-20, 26
If I unpack this section in James carefully, looking at the paragraph and syntax structure, a religious/godly heart does not begin with serving orphans, widows, and keeping myself unstained from the world (although this cannot be ignored), it begins with not deceiving my heart BY PUTTING emphasis on controlling my mouth BIBLICALLY.
Why do I emphasize biblically? Because it is way more than just keeping my mouth shut. I could be stoking the fires of my heart and sooner or later I blow up like a volcano—I am accomplishing nothing in the Name of Jesus.
How much is the Gospel aligned with the confession of my mouth? The Gospel exists whether or not I actually confess it. But my voice to God’s ear; not just “believe” (which can be a mental assent and never actually voiced) is, if I don’t look at one scripture out of context but look at the totality of the Word of God, dependent on my VOICE.
Today’s posting is relevant to me. I have received some news that is beginning a seed of irritation towards some people and I want to escalate it to anger and condemnation.
How do I keep and cultivate a cool spirit in my case? How do I restrain my words when I knew this day would come and now it may be too late?
What I am doing is to cling to the Cross actively and frantically; to trust the God who promises to collect and cherish my tears; who forgives me daily for my transgressions and sin; and asks me to forgive any and everyone as I have been forgiven.
Only the Gospel, only the Gospel.
Prayer: Help me, Father who has adopted me like a son, to confess your purpose in my life and to cling to the Cross. Help me to control my heart, so my tongue is controlled and does not transgress, and to show your Beauty in my tears…
Ricky Two Shoes