Diamonds and Toads

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James 3:9-12 “With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it?… You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?” (MSG)

Ouch! This scripture makes a clear-and convicting-case for the importance of controlling what we say. But the decision that allows the “brackish” water to flow from our lips is made long before we open our mouth. We have a choice, you know, to direct what we think about. We don’t have to let negativity about others pollute our thoughts. We can turn off the spigot as soon as we sense the first drip.

Pure water and bitter water cannot flow from the same spring. A little bit of poison contaminates it all. It’s easy to overlook this. We’re inclined to think what happens in thoughtville stays in thoughtville. Don’t bet on it! “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34, ESV). Eventually, the toxins we put in our system will surface.

It reminds me of a fairy tale, Diamonds and Toads, that I used to read to my children. It was about two daughters, one kind and virtuous, the other rude and altogether nasty. One day a fairy blessed the virtuous daughter by decreeing that every time she spoke, diamonds and flowers would flow from her mouth. When the ill-mannered daughter saw what had happened to her sister, she wanted to get in on the action. So she sought out the fairy, but maintained her despicable disposition. As a result, the fairy proclaimed that every time she spoke, not diamonds- but toads-would complement her foul talk. In both cases, the sisters’ words reflected the attitude of their hearts.

Thankfully, frogs don’t fall from my mouth every time I speak (or think) critically about someone. The ugliness, however, may not be that much different. I have a choice to replace that distasteful croaking of toads with the shimmering grace of diamonds.

How about you? Do you struggle with judgmental thinking? Are you allowing your fresh water to be polluted with the brackish? You don’t have to. Turn off the spigot! Don’t let the toads out!

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