Recently, I have found myself in the midst of conversations that became heated and the need for civility became obvious. I was less than successful in accomplishing that and I left those conversations feeling that I should have found a way to express myself with more civility.
Sunday's reading from the Letter of James is a word of wisdom that offers something even better than civility.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 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-- a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. - James 3:1-12
Such wisdom takes Christians beyond “civil” discourse, which is a good thing, into a higher level of conversation wherein our words can be a blessing to others. If only I can be mindful that the same tongue I use to bless God should also be used to bless those who are created in God's image!
I wonder if I can apply this wise insight the next time I become involved in a conversation about a controversial topic. My viewpoint may not be the one that changes another person's mind. But my blessing might change that person's life.
I’ll see you in Church!
The Very Reverend Ronald D. Pogue
St. Andrew’s Cathedral