Words like God1
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
- James 3:9
In today’s passage James is drawing on a significant idea from the very first book of the Bible, an idea that shapes how we as Christians decide to treat other people: human beings are made in God’s image and likeness.
This idea has three points of connection in the conversation about our tongues: with us, with other people and with God.
We ourselves are made in God’s likeness. God spoke the cosmos into existence. He spoke words of mercy over the fallen and the frustrated. He continues to speak words of love and justice, of acceptance and invitation, of calling and grace. Since we’re made in his likeness, our speaking should be like his. But there’s more.
Everyone else is also made in God’s likeness. Look carefully and you can see the family resemblance. God has placed his mark on all of humanity. There’s not a single person who’s ever lived who hasn’t been marked by God’s likeness. When we belittle, demean, attack, slander, bully or otherwise injure other human beings, we’re assaulting the image of God. We’re disrespecting God’s likeness.
But we were made to have deep and intimate relationships with God. Much of that has been damaged through our own selfishness and brokenness and pride. But God has acted in history through his Word made flesh, Jesus, who Paul calls “the image of the invisible God.” Through Jesus, we are invited back into a deep and intimate relationship with God.
God wants to save all of us, including our tongues. He invites us to use our words to confess and profess, to ask and to pray, to praise and to worship.
What would it look like for you to use your words like God today?