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…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. — Mark 16:15In Mark 16:15, Jesus instructed believers, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” But what did Jesus mean when He said that we were supposed to “preach”? Did He mean that every believer must have a pulpit ministry where he or she publicly stands in front of a church and preaches to a congregation? What does the word “preach” mean? The word “preach” comes from the Greek word kerusso, which means to proclaim, to declare, to announce, or to herald a message. It was the message proclaimed by the kerux, who was the official spokesman or herald of a king. Because the kerux was the appointed, official representative of the king or government, his specific job was to announce with a clear and unquestionable voice the desires, dictates, orders, recent events, news, policy changes, or message that the king or government wished to express to the people. The position of this kerux (“spokesman” or “herald”) was viewed to be the highest, most noble, privileged position in the kingdom because his position gave him routine access to the king that was afforded only to rare individuals. To be the king’s kerux was an honor and supreme privilege that necessitated the highest level of professionalism and excellent performance. When the king wanted to give a message to his people, he summoned the kerux. The kerux came to the king’s throne room with writing instrument and paper in hand; then he carefully and accurately penned the communication that the king desired to express to his people. After the king was finished dictating his message, the kerux was allowed to freely speak to the king and to ask questions of clarification to make certain he understood every point of the king’s message. Because this man was speaking on behalf of the king, there was no room for mistakes in his delivery of the message. When he finally stood before the people to announce the message given to him, it had to be accurate, precise, and faithful to what the king wanted to express to his people. As important as it was for the kerux to accurately understand and communicate the king’s message, it was equally his responsibility to capture and convey the sentiment, heart, and emotions of the king on these various issues. Thus, the kerux was expected to deliver his message with emotional impact in order to properly represent both the word and the heart of the king. Proper attire was essential for this notable position, for when the kerux stood before the people to speak on behalf of the king, he was also to physically represent the king in all his splendor and glory. The responsibility of publicly representing the king demanded that he dress appropriately, for a shabbily dressed kerux would have been an insult to the honor of the king. And because the kerux was the primary connection between the people and the king, he was also required to learn how to speak to people in a kind and cultured fashion. If he was rude, his behavior would reflect negatively on the king. If he was kind and courteous, this would reflect favorably on the king. As the king’s spokesman, the kerux understood that every word he spoke, every piece of clothing he wore, and all his actions, both public and private, would ultimately affect people’s opinion of the king. Consequently, because of his great responsibility as the king’s spokesman, he knew that every detail of his life was to be lived honorably, honestly, and uprightly. His personal life, as well as his public life, had to be spotless, immaculate, pristine, gleaming, and squeaky clean — free of accusation. When the kerux had finished delivering the king’s message to the people, he turned, left the platform from which he spoke, and then remained silent until the king summoned him back to the throne room to give him another message for the people. As the king’s spokesman, he had no right to speak his own mind, give his own personal commentary about what the king meant, or draw any attention to himself. Such actions would be considered gross violations of his position and a guarantee that he would no longer serve as the king’s spokesman. Keeping all this in mind, let’s consider again what Jesus meant when He commanded that all believers go into all the world “to preach” the Gospel. Since kerusso (“to preach”) is the message of the kerux (“the king’s spokesman”), it is clear that by using the word “preach,” God is communicating several very powerful messages to you and to me. First, as a believer, you must learn to see yourself as the representative of Jesus Christ. Although you may never stand before a public pulpit to preach, it is a fact that your life is your most important pulpit. What you say and do in your life reflects on the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, as a believer, it is absolutely essential that you spend time in the Presence of the Lord so you can hear His Word and capture His heart. You should never think of the time you must spend in God’s Presence praying or reading the Word as laborious or dreadful. It is a high honor that God has given you. He beckons you to come into His throne room so He can speak to you, share with you His heart, and then empower you with His Spirit to take the message to people who are desperately waiting for it. Never forget that you possess a position of great privilege. Third, as a believer, it is imperative that you learn how to dress appropriately and how to speak kindly, courteously, and in a way that brings honor to Jesus. If your appearance communicates a low standard because you dress like a slob, never comb your hair, always look unprofessional, or allow yourself to remain overweight (yes, I know this last one affects many people, but what I am saying is true) — this is exactly the image you are imparting about Jesus Christ. Would the president of a nation allow His spokesman to be aired on television in a sweatshirt or tennis shoes? Would a national public representative dare to go on national television to speak on behalf of the government looking like a slob? Of course not! It would be disrespectful to the office or the person the spokesman represented. Likewise, we must think about what we look like, what we sound like, and how we are perceived. We are not representing ourselves; we are representing Jesus Christ. Fourth, as a believer, you must realize that your private life is just as important as your public life. If you publicly declare the Gospel, but later it is discovered that your private life is a horrible mess and a complete contradiction of what you’ve been preaching, this, too, will reflect poorly on the Gospel. The lost world loathes hypocrites but enjoys it immensely when a preacher or believer is found to be a contradiction of the message he or she preaches. So never forget that as the Lord’s spokesman, you are required to do everything possible to maintain a life that is spotless, immaculate, pristine, gleaming, and squeaky clean — free of accusation. Fifth, as a believer and a representative of Jesus Christ, you must make a decision to refrain from making personal comments that are not your business to make. Speak what Jesus tells you to speak — but if someone tries to draw you into a debate or a conversation regarding a matter you know nothing about, just remain silent. You are not required to speak or to act like an authority regarding issues about which you are not an authority! You see, preaching the Gospel is what you do every day of your life by the way you live and conduct yourself. It is true that public pulpit ministry is a very special gift and honor that some are called to do. But the truth is, you preach every day that you get up and faithfully go to work! You preach when you choose to dress modestly or when you speak kindly to your fellow employees, believers, or friends. All these things reflect on the message of the Gospel. So as you obey Jesus’ words to take the Gospel to every ethnic group, culture, custom, civilization, and sphere where you personally have influence, always be mindful of the fact that you are His kerux in those places. You are His personal representative, and everything you do and say preaches about Jesus Christ! And as you go through each day, always make sure you set aside time in God’s Presence to obtain His Word and capture His heart. Then you’ll be able to turn to those you touch every day of your life and give them the message and heart that God has imparted to you on their behalf!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I ask You to please help me become an honorable representation of who You are! I am sorry for allowing myself in the past to live a low standard that gave a wrong impression about You. Now I understand that I am Your face and Your voice to the people around me. To the best of my ability, I want to speak courteously, dress appropriately, act professionally, and live in a Christ-like manner so I can accurately portray Your Word and Your heart. I know this is going to require some changes in my life, so today I am asking You to help me as I take steps toward becoming a worthy representative who brings only honor to the King of kings.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am the spokesman of the Lord. As His representative, I live respectfully, honorably, and in a way that brings glory to His name. I behave professionally; I speak courteously and kindly to others; I dress appropriately as His representative; and I preach the Gospel with excellence by the way I live both my public and private life. As a believer, I accept my assignment to be one of God’s messengers to my generation!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. After reading today’s Sparkling Gem, how do you feel you are doing at accurately representing Jesus Christ with your life? Does your life preach a message that brings honor or disgrace to Him? 2. Do you see any changes you need to make in the way you dress, speak, or act so you can present a better view of Jesus to those who don’t know Him? If the answer is yes, what are those changes you need to make? 3. Why don’t you make a list of those changes and put that list somewhere in your home where you will see it every day and be reminded to work diligently on improving those areas of your life?
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.… — Matthew 28:19 …Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. — Mark 16:15Today I want to talk to you about the commission Jesus gave to the Church to go into all the world to preach the Gospel. In the two verses listed above, Jesus explicitly gave the directive for believers to traverse the globe to “teach all nations” the Gospel (Matthew 28:19) and to take the saving message of Jesus Christ “into all the world” (Mark 16:15). But did Jesus really expect every believer to uproot his family, leave his nation, and move to the other side of the world to fulfill this command? By studying Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15, we discover that different Greek words are used in these two texts to accentuate the different parts of the world we are to reach with the Gospel. Let’s look at the two words “nations” and “world” today, for in these two words we find that we needn’t go far from home to fulfill the Great Commission! First, let’s look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations….” The word “nations” is the Greek word ethnos. It is where we get the word ethnic. In Greek, this word always describes Gentile nations. However, it doesn’t just refer to nations that are geographically located distant from us; it also expresses the idea of different customs, cultures, and civilizations. This unquestionably means the Gospel is to be taken to people from every culture, custom, civilization, race, color, or ethnicity in the world. The Gospel is meant for all the ethnos — in other words, for all the various races and colors of human flesh, all the cultures of the world, all the civilizations that exist worldwide. One man has translated Matthew 28:19 to read, “Go ye therefore and teach all ethnic groups, invading every race, every skin color, and every nation with its different customs and culture — ultimately taking this Gospel into every civilization that exists in the world.” I personally like this translation because it tells us the Gospel is for the entire human race! Here is the good news for you today! Because the mixture of nations has so dramatically changed in the past fifty years, you don’t have to go too far from home to find different ethnic groups, skin colors, cultures, or customs. The nations are now a mixture of different cultures and customs. Just leave your house and drive down the street to a different neighborhood. You’ll soon find a culture very different from your own! Rather than shun the people from these other cultures because they are different, you need to be brave enough to go to them. Build a relationship with them so you can bring them the message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They are a part of your mission field! But in Mark 16:15, Jesus used a different word to tell us who we are to “target” with the Gospel message. He said, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The word “world” in this verse is from the Greek word kosmos. This is very significant, for the word kosmos describes anything that is ordered. In Greek it is often used to denote a particular political system; a system of fashion; a system found in any part of society, such as a circle of friends; or any sphere where you live and have influence. The apostle Paul used the word kosmos when he wrote that Satan was the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Paul wasn’t speaking of the physical earth in that verse; he was telling us that Satan operates in world systems, including (but not exclusive to) some of the areas mentioned above. These world systems (kosmos) are the spheres Satan has invaded and where he exerts his greatest influence. Now Jesus tells us that we are to go into all the kosmos. Just as Satan attempts to manipulate, dominate, and control the world through such systems, we are ordered by Jesus to go “into all the world,” or into all the kosmos — which happens to be the very same systems through which Satan tries to control the human race. The people who live in those systems are lost, blinded by the god of this world. They need the Gospel message! An example of these world systems may be the place where you work. “Going into all the world” may mean going to the fellow workers you see and talk to every day. The system Jesus is sending you to may be the school you attend and the circle of friends you have there. Perhaps Jesus is telling you to take the Gospel into the special clubs or societies to which you belong. Or maybe He is calling you to invade your circle of friends whom you cherish and enjoy with the saving message of the Cross. Any of these examples could be your personal kosmos — the place where you live, function, and have influence in other people’s lives. What does all this mean for you? It means you don’t have to move to the other side of the world to preach the Gospel. Jesus never expected all believers to uproot their families and to move to foreign nations. But He does expect you to take the Gospel to the different ethnic groups, cultures, and civilizations that are in your city. He does expect you to invade every sphere where you have influence and to use your influence to declare the Gospel to people who live, work, and function in those places. So where is your closest mission field? Your mission field is right down your street or on the other side of your city in a neighborhood where the culture and customs are different than your own. Your mission field is to every person whose skin color is different than yours. You are to take the Gospel to every culture, civilization, and ethnic group in the community where you live. Whom are you called to reach? Your specific assignment is to reach every person in every group where you have influence. This means you needn’t buy a plane ticket and fly to the other side of the world to do this job. Mission trips are great experiences, but you have a mission field right where you work, where you attend school, where you purchase your groceries every day — in every place where you have some level of personal influence. Open your eyes and look around you! Jesus told the disciples that the fields of people all around them were “white already to harvest” (John 4:35). If you’ll look around you, you will see that the fields around you are white unto harvest as well. People near you are struggling through life, just wishing someone would help them. They are waiting for you to come to them with the saving message of Jesus Christ, and you are the missionary God wants to send them. Why does God want to use you to reach these people in your life? Because you already have a relationship with them. You have influence with them. They will listen to you when you tell them the Good News! So open your heart and mind today to the Holy Spirit, and let Him use you to bring eternal change to the lost people who literally encompass your life!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I ask You to use me to reach my city and the people who are in my sphere of influence. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that missions work only happens on the other side of the world and have therefore missed the vast mission field that surrounds my life every day. Now that I know You are calling me to invade every culture and ethnic group, give me the power and courage to start reaching them with the Good News. And now that I know I am to invade every sphere where I have influence, help me see myself as Your missionary, sent to these people whom I know so well. I surrender to the call — and today I acknowledge that I am Your missionary to my world.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am God’s missionary to my city and to the people I interact with in every area of life. Jesus expects me to take the Gospel to the different ethnic groups, cultures, and civilizations that are in my city and neighborhood. He expects me to invade every sphere where I have influence and to use that influence to share the Gospel with the people who live, work, and function in those places. My mission field is right down my street, and my assignment is to reach every person in every group where I have influence. So I choose this day to invest my time and energy into fulfilling that divine assignment to the glory of God!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. How long has it been since you moved out of your comfortable life to reach people who are outside your culture, custom, skin color, or ethnic group? Have you been limited in your thinking to reach only people who look, think, and live like you? 2. Can you think of someone you know who doesn’t know Jesus? It could be your hairdresser, your neighbor, the ladies at the local daycare, the men at the bowling alley, the people you work with every day, or the other students with whom you attend school. Since these are the types of places where you have influence, don’t you think you ought to use that influential connection to bring people to Jesus? 3. Why don’t you write down a list of five different people or groups to whom you can reach out with the saving message of Jesus Christ? Remember, God is expecting you to be His missionary, so think this through. After writing down your answer, pray over it and then formulate a plan you can begin to execute.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. — Hebrews 3:13If you want to fulfill God’s plan for your life, there’s one thing you must not do: Don’t forsake the daily fellowship and encouragement of other believers! Hebrews 3:13 tells us that we need to “…exhort one another daily.…” But what does it mean to “exhort”? The word for “exhort” that is used in this verse comes from the Greek word parakaleo. It is a compound of the words para and kaleo. The word para means alongside, and the word kaleo means to call, to invite, to speak, or to beckon. When these two words are compounded into one, it gives the picture of someone who has come closely alongside of another person for the sake of speaking to him, consoling him, comforting him, or assisting him with instruction, counsel, or advice. Because it is so helpful when someone comes alongside to support you in this manner, this word is often translated in the New Testament as the word encouragement. Jesus used the word paraklete, a derivative of parakaleo, to describe the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” in John 14:16. These verses make it abundantly clear that we need to both give and receive encouragement from other believers on a daily basis. This is such a vital principle that the tense used in the Greek language calls for continual action. In other words, we are not to just encourage one another once a week; we are to make this a matter of lifestyle. We must get into the habit of encouraging one another, doing it so often that it becomes a daily practice! Think how encouraging it is when someone cares enough to take you to lunch, call you on the telephone, write you a note, or go out of his way at the office or church to come to you and ask how you are doing. It is especially very strengthening to know that someone really cares about you if you’re going through challenging times! But rather than fixate only on your need to be encouraged, try taking your eyes off yourself to see those around you who are also in need of strength. Think of someone you know whom you can strengthen by coming alongside him to speak words of comfort, consolation, or bravery. Maybe you can take that person to lunch; call him on the telephone; drop him a note; or go out of your way to see how he is doing. Remember, you’re not the only one who needs encouragement! We all need encouragement from brothers and sisters in the Lord who will lovingly attach themselves to us — watching us, making observations about us, and finding ways to provoke us unto love and good deeds. But we must also turn around and do the same for other believers. That’s what the Body of Christ is all about! So recognize that when you’re feeling down and left out, you need fellowship with people of faith more than ever. Jesus understood this principle. When He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray the night before His crucifixion, He asked Peter, James, and John to come pray with Him. Jesus needed their fellowship and strength that night, or He wouldn’t have requested it. Recognize your need for others — and acknowledge that others need you as well. The daily exhortation and encouragement of other believers will help you stir up your faith to hold fast to your confession until it becomes a reality. And as an added side benefit, you will experience more deeply the Presence of the Lord in your life through the joy of knowing and loving other people of like faith!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I want to be a major source of blessing to people in my life! Help me to quit being so fixated on myself and to see how I can become a strength and encouragement to others who are around me. Your Word commands me to be involved in giving daily encouragement. And since I am seriously committed to obeying Your Word, I intend to find a way to encourage someone who needs strength today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I need to be encouraged! God’s Word commands me to be encouraged daily, so I choose to believe that encouragement is what I need. I recognize my need for others, and I acknowledge that others need my encouragement as well. The daily exhortation and encouragement of other believers will stir up my faith and help me hold fast to my confession of faith!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. How does it affect you when someone goes out of his way to check on you or to see how you are doing? 2. How does it affect you when no one ever asks how you are doing or what is new in your life — when it seems like everyone is ignoring the fact that you also have needs in your life? 3. Are you involved in giving strength and encouragement to others, or are you just concerned about receiving it from others? Where is your focus? Is it on yourself or on the needs of other people as well?
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. — Romans 8:14When your journey of faith begins, you may not have all the answers you would like to have before you take your first steps of faith. For instance, when my family moved to the other side of the world so many years ago, we sincerely thought it would be a one-year investment in the USSR. But when we took the first step and arrived at that land, God gave us the next step. When we obeyed that step, He then gave us the next, and the next, and the next. That’s the way it is for all of us when we walk with the Lord. As wonderful as it would be to see the whole picture before we get started, He usually leads us one step at a time after we get started. This has certainly been true in my life. God had given me a vision for my life, but His instructions for moving toward that goal came one step at a time. Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The word “led” is the Greek word ago, which described the act of leading about an animal, such as a cow or a goat, at the end of a rope. The owner would wrap a rope around the animal’s neck and then “tug” and “pull” until the animal started to follow him. When the animal decided to cooperate and follow that gentle tug, it could then be gently “led” to where its owner wanted it to go. Today I want to encourage you to pay careful attention to the “tugging” and “pulling” of the Holy Spirit in your heart. He is a Gentleman and does not force you to obey Him. He prompts you, tugs on your heart, and pulls on your spirit to get your attention. Sometimes His “tugs” may be so gentle that you almost miss them. But if you’ll develop your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, He will gently “lead” you exactly where He wants you to go with your life. Also, don’t demand that the Holy Spirit tell you the whole story first! Trust Him! Remember that Jesus called Him the “Spirit of Truth” (John 16:13) to help you understand that the Holy Spirit and His leading can be trusted! He is the “Spirit of Truth,” so if He is leading you to do something, you can know He has a good reason for it. He sees and knows what you cannot see. If you will follow Him, the Holy Spirit will take you exactly where you need to go and help you reach your maximum potential in life. As I reflect on all that has happened throughout our years of ministry, I realize that our testimony is one of being “led” by the Holy Spirit. We give Him all the glory for leading us. We weren’t smart enough to accomplish everything that has been done, but the Leader we were following knew exactly how to lead us. Because we were following Him one step at a time, He led us to a high place of victory in so many areas. And we’re not the only ones who have been led. Our partners have also been led by the Spirit in their giving and praying. Because they have had a heart to cooperate with God, we have seen Him do the impossible again and again and again. As you look at your own life today, I urge you to make the decision to let the Spirit be your Leader in every area of your life. Let Him take you by the heart and give you a little “tug” and “pull” in the right direction. Then say, “Lord, I sense that You are tugging on my heart, and I’m ready to let You lead me where You want me to go.” You may not see the full picture from the onset of your journey. Certainly my wife and I could never have conceived what a huge impact would be achieved in the former USSR when we were first getting started. But part of the excitement is letting God be in control! Watching where He leads and seeing what He does through you will later give you cause for great rejoicing. You’ll be so thankful that you allowed Him to be the undisputed Leader in your life!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I want to be led by the Holy Spirit in all that I say and do. When the Spirit “tugs” at my heart, trying to lead me in a new direction, please stir in me the courage I need to go wherever He leads me without being fearful, nervous, or concerned. I know the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and would therefore never mislead me. Help me become fearless to obey whatever He tells me and to go wherever He leads me. I know He has my victory in mind as I follow Him where He leads. Thank You for helping me to be bold to follow!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am led by the Spirit of God! The Holy Spirit “tugs” and “pulls” on my heart, and I cooperate by following Him as He gently leads me where He wants me to go. He prompts me, tugs at my heart, and pulls on my spirit to get my attention. Because I am sensitive to Him, the Holy Spirit leads me one step at a time to exactly where He wants me to go with my life. He sees and knows what I cannot see. He is leading me exactly where I need to be in order to reach my maximum potential in life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Are you aware when the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart to lead you in a specific direction? If so, how would you describe that “tugging” to another believer who has never experienced it? 2. Have you ever started a Spirit-led project without having the entire picture before you got started? As you got started, did the Holy Spirit keep directing you step by step to where He wanted you to be? 3. Although it was challenging to be led in this way, were you afterwards glad that you obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit?
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. — James 3:8When I was a boy growing up in Oklahoma, I loved snakes! In fact, I had a whole collection of snakes — rat snakes, corn snakes, king snakes, garter snakes, boa constrictors, Burmese pythons, and reticulated pythons. I even had several very poisonous snakes, such as the spotted, brownish-yellow copperhead that was once a part of my collection. Poisonous snakes behave very differently from non-poisonous snakes. Non-poisonous snakes such as boa constrictors or pythons can be domesticated, and even held and stroked. But this isn’t the case with poisonous snakes because they are nervous by nature and easily agitated. They are restless creatures, ready to strike at any moment. Because poisonous snakes are so vicious and nervous, they are almost impossible to domesticate. If you try to loosely hold or stroke a rattlesnake or a copperhead as you might do with a boa constrictor or python, you can be sure that you’ll be bitten! The venom depositories situated just above the fangs in the head of the snake are loaded with deadly venom. When poisonous snakes inject their razor-sharp fangs deep into a victim, they push down into his flesh, which causes the venom to pump through the victim’s flesh and into the bloodstream. Once the venom is injected, the snake lets loose and slithers away. Meanwhile, the victim is left to suffer as the poison begins to eat away at his flesh or paralyze his nervous system, often producing death. The reason I am writing so much about snakes is that this was exactly the picture James had in mind when he wrote James 3:8. This verse says, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” When you understand the full meaning of the Greek words used in this verse, it powerfully depicts the problem of the tongue. It compares the tongue that is not controlled by the Holy Spirit to a ready-to-strike, nervous, and poisonous snake! James begins by saying, “But the tongue can no man tame.…” Pay careful attention to the word “tame,” because this word accurately describes how impossible it is to control the tongue without the help of God’s Spirit! The word “tame” is from the Greek word damadzo, which is the word that means to domesticate, to subdue, to tame, or to bring under control. It is the same exact word used in Mark 5:4 when talking about the demoniac of Gadara. Mark 5:4 tells us that this man was so wild, so frenzied, and so out of control because of the legion of demons that resided within him that “…neither could any man tame him.” This word “tame” is the same Greek word that is used in James 3:8 to depict the difficulty of taming the tongue! Let’s look at the full meaning behind the word “tame” — the Greek word damadzo. Not only does it mean to tame, but it was also used to describe animal trainers who were experts at capturing and domesticating the wildest and most ferocious of beasts, such as lions, tigers, and bears. Normally these animals would maul or kill a person, but these skilled trainers were able to take the wildest animals and domesticate them, even turning them into house pets. The fact that this word is used in Mark 5:4 to describe the demoniac of Gadara strongly suggests that wild animal trainers had unsuccessfully attempted to subdue and tame the demoniac. This demon-possessed man was so ferocious that those who could domesticate the most ferocious of beasts were unable to subdue and tame him. Now James uses this same word in James 3:8 to describe the tongue! By using this word, he lets us know that the tongue is as hard to subdue, tame, and domesticate as is a ferocious wild beast! In fact, the tongue is so hard to subdue that James goes on to tell us, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil.…” The word “unruly” is the word akatastatos, describing something that is restless, such as a nervous, poisonous snake that is poised and is ready to strike. Because the tongue is so unstable and restless, its behavior is almost impossible to predict. It is like a snake that may appear to be docile but is actually just waiting for a victim to come along in which to inject its venom. This is precisely why James goes on to say, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” The words “full of deadly poison” come from the Greek word thanatephoros, which is a compound of the words thanatos and phero. The word thanatos is the Greek word for death, and the word phero means to bear or to carry. When these two words are compounded into one, as in this case, the new word means death-bearing. Like the poisonous snakes described above, the tongue is depicted as an instrument that is full of death and poison. It is also unruly — unpredictable, listless, nervous, easily agitated, and ready to inject its venom.
An interpretive translation of James 3:8 could be as follows:
“No one can successfully tame or domesticate the tongue! It is listless, nervous, easily agitated, and ready to strike. Like a poisonous snake, it is nearly always poised to strike and to deliver its load of deadly venom.”Have you ever said anything to someone that was so sharp, it sounded like you were attacking him? Afterward when you thought about what you said, were you embarrassed by your behavior? Were you shocked to realize that you could say something so ugly and derogatory? Did you have to create a recovery operation to fix the mess you created with your words of unkindness? We are all guilty of saying ugly things from time to time simply because we all have tongues! James asserts that this “tongue” problem is a universal dilemma. The only way our tongue can be subdued, tamed, and brought under control is if we submit it to the control of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says no man can tame the tongue, but the Holy Spirit is well able to tame the tongue once it has been submitted to His sanctifying power! You don’t have to be embarrassed by unruly words that come out of your mouth any longer! Neither do you ever again have to let your lips inject venom into another person. By committing your tongue and your mouth to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, you give the Holy Spirit the authority to penetrate this realm of your life with His power and control. He will help you keep a tight rein on your mouth so you can keep from saying things you will later regret! Why not stop right now and submit your mouth and tongue to the Lordship of Jesus? Then ask the Holy Spirit to pervade this part of your life and help you bring it under control. The Holy Spirit is standing by, ready to help you subdue that restless, unruly tongue!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am submitting my tongue and my mouth to the Lordship of Jesus Christ today! I am unable to control my tongue by myself, so right now I deliberately make the decision to ask You to invade this area of my life with Your power and Your control. I confess that I need Your help, Lord; I can’t do it on my own. Please help me learn how to overcome in this area of my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI boldly declare that my tongue is subdued, tamed, and brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. My lips speak words of kindness; my mouth releases praise; and I am known as one who says encouraging and helpful things to other people. My words are seasoned with grace, and my lips are constantly giving thanks to God! This is what my tongue speaks because it is submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!