"How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue. Thanksgiving and curses flow from the same tongue. This should not be!" - James 3:5, 7, 10
Few of us will have roasted tongue for Thanksgiving, but maybe we should. According to James the tongue is a flame that can set the world ablaze. Perhaps we should consume it before it consumes us. You can tame a turkey, says James, but no one can tame their tongue.
If it can't be tamed completely, the tongue can be muzzled for one day. Thanksgiving dinner might provide the perfect opportunity:
- Someone at the table is upset by the mid-term elections. Maybe you agree. Hold your tongue.
- Your mother asks for the umpteenth time why you haven't produced any grandchildren. Hold your tongue.
- Your brother only laughs when his offspring licks the sugar off the top of the apple pie. Hold your tongue ... and have pumpkin pie.
- Your sister-in-law drinks too much and says something embarrassing and hurtful. Hold your tongue. Do the intervention later.
- You are alone on Thanksgiving and feeling blue. Hold your tongue from igniting self-loathing.
By practicing verbal restraint with minor injustices, you might have more energy for calling out bigger ones. And more energy for blessing. Because today is for thanksgiving. You can set the woes of the world ablaze with holy fire tomorrow.
God, just for today, let me use my tongue for savoring instead of scorching, for restraint instead of resistance, for blessing instead of lambasting.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series publishe by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince available now.