James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (NIV)
Not long after the congregation which I formerly served had paved its parking lot, I happened to arrive at the church building on a bright, sunny spring day in the middle of the week, to discover that some of the neighbourhood children had found a new place to have some fun with sidewalk chalk. In bright colours and flowery designs, a stream of words covered the black asphalt.
What caught my attention was the juxtaposition of two messages. One was the quotation of a verse of Scripture. I don't now remember for certain, but I believe it was 1 Corinthians 13:13: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (NIV) Alongside of this, in the same yellow chalk, was a very disrespectful comment which included an unholy word. Though I cannot be sure, it appeared that both comments were in the same handwriting; certainly both were in the same colour, and immediately side-by-side.
Instantly, today's Scripture verse from the apostle James came to mind. In the years since, I have often reflected upon what I found on the parking lot pavement that morning — and what was plain for all those passing by to see. I wonder how often our mouths, our pens, our e-mails, or our blogs leave hearers or readers similarly wondering.
Prayer: Gracious, truth-loving, truth-speaking God, help us to use our tongues, which You created and which Jesus has redeemed and reclaimed, to sing Your praises and to speak Your truth. Save us from poisoning what we proclaim by speaking or writing trash. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional