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Lectionary

Noxious or holy speech?

There is a way of speaking that is slanderous. It is all too often an expression of power, and in this time of weaponized accusations the temptations to curse, to rail, and to make things up increases.

This is a form of moral hazard: it is not merely omitting facts but making up lies, so that one preserves power and destroys others. In this time, it is not necessarily our tongue that is a weapon, but our tweets or memes. But one would play that game at one’s peril. There are autists on both sides who will dedicate hours if not weeks into going through every word you have said and demanding an accounting for something that offends them.

And you will have offended them. For we are all flawed, we all make errors, and those of us who blog for years (this place goes back to 2012) have thousands of words.

Besides there are those who call any truth noxious, and any standard hateful.

James 3:1-13

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 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. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 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. 5 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! 6 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,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

The trouble with the truth is that it is now deemed hate speech, or spam, or worse. It does not matter what your credentials are. Those of us who try to moderate our speech (no one succeeds) and choose the more gracious words are called ugly names. At times I want to rant like my favorite Papist (who I like because he says things bluntly)

Liars forget that we have long memories. But that is merely stage one of taming your tongue, for if you have malice, wrath or envy in your heart you will speak it. It is not merely the enemy that boasts. It is all to frequently, us.

And being a pew sitter means that I am still accountable,

Let our speech, therefore, be holy, righteous, truthful. Let our lives reflect this. We have a goal, and that is to be like Christ: not the plastic image of Jesus this fallen age proclaims. He was damned for his words by the fallen.

That is inevitable, but we the fallen must not be like.

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