If You've Got It, Flaunt It
LEA Weekly Devotional
Week of September 17
Proper 19 (B)
Extended Reading: James 3:1–12
If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It
“Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards” (James 3:1 MSG).
James sounds a warning. But it’s nothing for you to worry about, is it? You are highly responsible and you have high standards. After all, you chose a Lutheran ministry in which to exercise your profession.
But … yes, as always, there’s a but in every crowd (of words). But … be sure to read all of James 3:1–12. The first verse is just a start. (Profound, huh?)
While James preached excellence in Christian education, he also was a realist. He admitted, “… none of us is perfectly qualified” (James 3:2 MSG). Wow! We can relate to that. Does a month go by when someone we serve fails to identify our lack of perfection? But (there it is again), be careful. Two problems exist with this application of the Law.
First, church workers have many natural critics—even adversaries—right within their own camp … er, congregation and school. These are the people who disagree, sometimes because they have legitimate counter-opinions, sometimes because they have an extra disagreeable gene embedded in their personality. And sometimes they even prefer false teaching to the truth. They can alter careers and even ministries. They are dangerous and must be addressed with truth and confidence. (Isaiah struggled with this bunch. See Isaiah 50:4–10 for his experience and advice).
Second, some of our perceived imperfections are genuine. We must address those too. Today’s reading from James focuses on one common imperfection, a tart tongue. As he says, “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!” (James 3:5a MSG).
We know all too well the perverse power of words, so let’s spin in the other direction. Words have affirmatory power too. These are the words that heal, encourage, comfort, and otherwise reflect or proclaim the Gospel. These words come from a tame tongue.
Tamed tongues do not come naturally. Truly tamed tongues (say that quickly 10 times!) are possible only in response to forgiveness granted by God, earned by Jesus Christ, and revealed by the Holy Spirit.
God’s merciful gift of grace needs to be as readily available to our students, families, and colleagues—yes, even the worst student, most obnoxious parent, and quantumly quarrelsome colleague (not that we have any of those here!).
The treatment of imperfections in this area may be improved when we remember that before we came to faith, we literally were chief of sinners. And you know what they say about too many chiefs …! With soooo many chiefs, our pots of blessings were sure to be spoiled. But God through Jesus Christ changed all that. He changed us. His grace and mercy remade us in His image.
The implication? If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Note: Scripture foundations selected for the 2006-2007 LEA devotionals are from the “new” lectionary in the 2006 Lutheran Service Book. You might notice that the page heading indicates that this is Proper 19, which is the appointed reading for September 11-17. In this regard, LEA devotionals may be based on readings that differ from those used in worship at your church. As more congregations adopt the revised the lectionary, the readings here will correspond with the readings used locally.
Written by Ed Grube
© 2006 Lutheran Education Association
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