(If you missed the first installment of this series check it out HERE!)
“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!” – James 3:9-10
I wrestled with the right way to start this week’s one-liner to live by. I love the chance to dip my toes into a little bit of Greek; it’s the reason I chose a degree in theology! I find the biblical languages fascinating; researching etymology, textual comparison with Israel’s contemporaries, learning the world these authors lived in so as to more fully understand the truth they preserved for us today-who knew Bible study could be so Sherlock Holmes!!
I also understand that not everyone shares my nerdy passion. So let me intrigue you with a quick peek at the contrast in this verse between blessing and cursing. Did you know blessing, or praising, is the Greek word eulogeō? Sound familiar? It’s the term from which we draw the English word eulogy. Perhaps this grabbed my attention because I spent yesterday morning in the somber quiet of a funeral home to honor the life of a woman who unexpectedly made her way home to heaven. She was wonderfully complex, difficult to take in at times, but genuinely passionate about sharing her faith. Her eulogy celebrated the imprint of God on her heart and His touch on others through her life. It highlighted her best qualities and quietly covered over the more complicated bits that made her the woman we all knew and loved regardless.
I hope one day others will see His imprint on my heart; I hope they will have been touched by His hand through my life and graciously forgive the messier moments of the memories I leave behind. Sometimes I think it would be fun to sit in on your own funeral, hear the eulogy chronicling the accomplishments of your life, and listen to friends and family share how wonderful you were! So vain, I know!! Pretend with me for a moment, though; imagine the warm, fuzzy feeling of hearing how God used your life for the good in spite of your failures and mistakes. Imagine the Pastor standing up front, encouraging the crowd to follow in your footsteps as a faithful servant and learn from the example of your life…
Imagine that same Pastor sitting down, leaning over to the person next to him, and whispering a little too loudly, “That woman was a saint, but have you met her kids? Rotten to the core. Just downright worthless! What a shame…”
I can see myself bargaining up in heaven with God for a few more moments on Earth just so I could jump out of the coffin and slap that man across the face. How callous! How careless! How dare he sing my praises then turn around and slander the ones I loved the most?!
I’m sure God asks Himself this question. Every Sunday He has a room packed with people to honor His legacy and sing His praises, yet somehow we can’t manage to get along with the ones He loves the most, the ones sitting in the pews beside us. Imagine His heartbreak when we bless Him with hands raised to heaven, then turn around and tear down His kids without missing a beat.
As a Pastor’s wife I have seen behind the iron curtain of church business; I know how vicious the family of God can be. I know how easy it is to write someone off as rotten to the core and downright worthless. I know how natural is can feel to curse, to kataraomai, the person two pews over.
“I hope they get what’s coming to them!”
“I hope they get exactly what they deserve.”
Ever said statements like these before? That, my friend, is kataraomai. It’s a natural feeling when you have been unfairly wronged. Unfortunately that doesn’t make it right! The short and sweet of this Scripture reminds us that seeing others through our Maker’s eyes and beholding His beauty despite their brokenness is a choice God calls us too whether we feel like it or not. Loving Him means loving the ones He loves. Even when they’re wrong. Even when we’re right.
This one-liner to live by is a hard one to swallow; it certainly stung this Pastor’s wife heart! Imagine if His people chose to live out anyways. Imagine if we, the church, truly valued the person in the pew next door simply because they are made in the image of the God we are there to worship! Imagine how beautiful our witness would be if we loved God’s family as much as we say we love Him. It starts one by one. Are you willing to let is start with you?