The Words I Want To Speak
Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” James 3:11
At some point, our children make decisions that leave us feeling puzzled and possibly paranoid that the next wrong decision is around the corner. And that’s what I felt like I was facing that particular night as I found myself in a huge argument with two of my teenage daughters.
We were having some boundary issues. And as a mom, I was trying to figure out what my nonnegotiables were with boundaries and what things I didn’t need to hold so tightly. It was messy.
My thoughts throughout that day had led me in a downward pattern of disbelief, and unfortunately, the words flying out of my mouth began to flow from my internal worries.
In this moment of conflict with my girls, I felt a deep conviction as the Holy Spirit whispered, “Are you speaking blessing or burden over them?”
If I’m honest, it was burden.
James 3:11 asks a self-examination question: “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”
A basic science class would teach us that fresh water and salt water cannot come from the same spring. But James isn’t really speaking about water here; he’s talking about the soul. And what is deep within us is normally what starts to flow from us.
When James was writing this, he was most likely trying to paint a vivid picture of the mineral springs in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea. Something the original audience for this text would have been able to identify with.
But isn’t it so fascinating how this text connects just as much today as it did all those yesterdays?
The words I want to speak over conflict are life-giving.
The words I want to speak over my children’s decisions I don’t agree with are wise but not forceful.
The words I want to speak over my family are blessings, not burdens.
But if I want to speak those types of words, then I have to deal with some of the destruction deep in my soul. The source of many salty words. That place deep within us that James is referring to. The place where no one really goes except us and the Holy Spirit.
Feeling convicted to change and actually changing are two very different things. I have found that after we experience conviction, what we aren’t changing we are choosing.
The best part of this struggle and all our human struggles is God never commands perfection from us. He has an unlimited supply of principles and grace for our process with Him.
But the responsibility is ours for the taking.
So that day, I let the Holy Spirit reveal something to me about my own experiences as a teenager and about the words spoken to me in the midst of conflict that still sting from time to time. I don’t want my teenagers to feel that from me.
And I’m trying to make the decision to speak blessing, not burden, over every hard conflict that comes my way, whether it’s in parenting or just with people in general.
I’m not getting it right all the time, but I’m making some right steps.
The words we speak matter. But what our words reveal matters just as much.
The entire chapter of James 3 offers us wisdom about our words. But may we hold closely our key verse today, reminding ourselves that when we take care of what is deep within us, something beneficial will flow from us.
No matter what our words have sounded like in the past, today is a day we can decide to be different from this point forward. This acknowledgement and this place of humility is where healing begins both internally and externally.
God, thank You that we can say, “From this point forward, it will be different.” Thank You for the strength within us to move our words to a place of blessing no matter what the situation. Help us to get there today. Guide our words. Let what’s deep within be challenged so that what flows from us is good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.