Have you ever had one of those moments when you take a good, long look at yourself and you’re like…
“Oh man…that’s ugly.”
Now let’s be clear that I’m talking about your internal self; because you, my sweet friend, are gorgeous no matter what.
I had one of these epiphanies the other day after a conversation with a friend that left me feeling a little convicted. There’s a disconnect sometimes between what
we I believe and what we I portray our my beliefs to be to others. It’s so easy to get swept up in other people’s opinions, the gossip, the negativity and all those other things you think will get you accepted.
Big life transitions (for me, my recent job change) have a tendency to make you analyze yourself. It’s a chance to start over and re-vamp problem areas. After the aforementioned conversation, I went to my home base, the Bible, to do something I honestly haven’t done much of lately. Read it.
And of course, per usual, it kicked me in the stomach. In a good way. Right there, in the pages of James, were the words I needed to read. The ugliness I have let grow in myself for far too long. That’s the interesting thing about toxic behavior…you don’t realize how big it’s getting until it’s grown out of control.
Take a read with me (this is long and kind of random, I apologize. But it just kept jumping out!)
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
“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.”
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
My tongue is ugly. How about yours? And my actions? They sometimes stink too.
Words AND deeds. Both are part of our faith and beliefs. You can’t be fully committed without both, as in any relationship in your life. And on the same note, both affect each other. They can build each other up or they can tear the other one down. Hypocrisy is not a fun place to be, but it’s often where I find myself when both my tongue and my actions aren’t aligned.
But I think this is all part of The Year of Alive, right? We grow by moving forward in places where there is work to be done.
And as I tell my student tour guides…”Think about what is going to come out of your mouth before it comes out of your mouth.” Is it really what you want people to hear? Would someone who has never met you before understand your message? Do your actions match what you’re saying?
Suppose I better listen to my own advice, ya think?
Happy Friday…love you friends!