Saltlips (by Len Winneroski)

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect,able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. 

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 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.

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. – James 3:1-12

I love our new Bernedoodle puppy, Yuki. She is a bundle of energy and can be stupid fearless! Yesterday, before church service, I was drinking my third cup of Mad Scientist Silk Coffee (don’t judge me) and my wife and I were talking with our youngest daughter, who is in South Korea with some professors and other students from Ball State University.

Yuki decided that she wanted some attention, and she jumped up into my lap right as I was taking another drink of coffee. I spilled my coffee all over myself, the chair I was sitting in, the wall, and the floor. I’m ashamed to tell you that the first word out of my mouth was a word that starts with “d” and rhymes with ham-it.

In fact, if I am completely honest with you this morning, I don’t curse often, but when I get real emotional I sometimes leak bad words like “hell” and “ass.” I even try to justify my cursing because those words are in the Bible.

Yesterday, at Traders Point Christian Church, pastor Aaron was teaching on 1 John chapter one. I was convicted about my morning cursing by 1 John 5:5-10, and I knew that I need to bring my potty mouth out of the darkness into the light, so that I can ask for God’s forgiveness and be accountable to God and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Before I gave my life to Christ, my potty mouth would have made a sailor blush. I’m ashamed to admit that my choice of cuss words at that time were definitely NOT in the Bible. Thankfully, those words don’t come out of my lips too often anymore, but if I want to write about my faith in Jesus, and try to encourage and teach others, I need to come clean and ask for your prayers to help me control my tongue even better.

Cursing is not the only way that we express saltlips to the world. When we gossip, brag, judge others, and are too afraid to speak up to defend Christ’s name and others, our lips become offensive and not life-giving. In Matthew 12:36 Jesus said, ‘But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” Let that sink in this morning friends.

I don’t know about you, but I think I need to talk a lot less and listen a lot more. I already have a lot of empty and salty words that I’m going to have to give account for when I meet Jesus face to face. Thankfully, 1 John 1:9 also says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Dear Jesus, please forgive me when salty words of death and ugliness come out of these lips that you have created. I am a sinful man with unclean lips, and I need your forgiveness and help to control my tongue. Help me to speak words of life and beauty that glorify you and lift others up. Wash away the salt from my lips and fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I can be a more effective tool for your work in the world.

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