"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, December 14, 2012


James 3:9-10 (NIV 1984)  "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be."

During my mom's illness and after her death I was hurt by a couple family members.  During this intense time of grief my pain magnified.  For nearly two years I harbored resentful feelings and bitterness.  And, when I opened my mouth, sourness towards them spewed like snake venom.

Living in the malice cage is bondage.  Two years later, after realizing my desperate need to rid my life of such toxic poison, I finally humbled myself, went to both people and sought their forgiveness.  Thankfully, restoration occurred and it wasn't the death of our relationship.

This is not the only time I have verbally torn someone apart.  I still periodically wrestle with this.  My main point in part 3 of this tongue trouble series, is that stored venom destroys our minds, our hearts and our mouths, especially when there is long standing tension in relationships, no matter how hard we try to live peaceably.   

The last two weeks I've shared about gossip and resolving conflict biblically.  When these kinds of issues are settled healing can be experienced.  But, let's be honest, how about those relationships that drain your joy and leave you parched?  Whenever you think of these difficult people your eyes magnetize to the top of your lids while you forcefully exhale.

The passage in James delivers a hard-hitting truth.  How can we praise God one minute and tear down our brother or sister the next?  The very people we 'talk about' are also made in the image of God.  Ridiculing those made in His likeness has no place for those seeking to honor the Lord with their tongues.  Falling into this trap creates tongue trouble with monumental impact.

In my experience, I can be doing fine until a conversation leads to an old injury.  Or, I'm posed with a question, that, if I answer 'truthfully' it would be more like splatter paint than a piece from Picasso.  Even though I've forgiven them, my heart starts to get all worked up again!  I have to force my will to pray on the spot: Oh Lord, I need your help (like right now!) in not dishonoring these people.

We all have E.G.R's.  (Extra Grace Required).  So, how can we be honorable towards them without tearing them down as James instructs?  
  • Remember Whose image they are made in.
  • Memorize verses related to the tongue.
  • Establish healthy boundaries.
  • When forced with a compromising situation, pray on the spot.
  • Find the good in them and dwell on it.
  • Seek the Lord in how to truly love them.
  • Resist the temptation to strike with sarcasm. (that one's for me!)
Implementing these points will help us be more considerate of formidable people in our lives. This will also enable us to relinquish the tendency of keeping track of offenses and holding grudges.  I honestly believe because I had stored venom in my heart it clearly inhibited my healing with the grief of losing my mother.  I was stuck, unable to progress to an emotionally healthy place in life.  At the time I felt justified to feel the way I did toward them because of my injured heart, but I was wrong.  

Much of stored venom stems from burdensome people in our lives, no matter how much we strive to live in right relationships with them.  The longer poison stays bottled up the more toxicity develops.  Seeking to be respectful of challenging people requires intentional choice and action.  

Lord, please help us to praise and not punish, care and not curse, love and not loathe.  May our mouths be instruments of mercy, not malice; rejoicing, not regret; sweetness, not sourness; encouragement, not enmity; compassion, not criticism; respect, not resentment; healing, not hatred; and veneration, not venom.

Heart Work:
Please comment and share your ideas for not dishonoring difficult people.

Pick two verses below, write them on index cards and memorize them this week.

Heart Exam:
How can you better respond with formidable people in your life?

What stored venom exists in your heart?

Do you recognize the damage harbored poison develops?

Heart Transforming Word:

Psalm 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."

Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

Proverbs 12:18 "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

Proverbs 15:4a "The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life."

Proverbs 21:23 "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity."

James 1:26 (NIV 1984)  "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."

James 3:6 and 8 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  But no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

1 Peter 3:9-10 "Don't repay evil for evil.  Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you.  Instead, pay them back with blessing.  That is what God has called you to do , and he will bless you for it.  For the Scriptures say, 'If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.' "

Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen.  All rights reserved.


  1. I think it's amazing that God shows us how to use and share our own experiences! Thank you sister. I think you're beautiful! Happy Friday! ~ Love out, Amy

    1. Thank you Amy for your sweet words of encouragement to me. I always enjoy your comments.

      Much love, Hester ;)

  2. Hester,
    Again, a Very Relevant post, especially in my most difficult situation. I fail constantly in this regard and need to be set free from a heart of venom. Could I copy and paste these other 2 posts as well? Thank you for sharing your own struggles as well, it helps to know I am not the only one.
    God Bless,

    1. Megan,

      I appreciate your honesty. I understand how hard this is. God is continually teaching me.

      Yes, you are welcome to copy these to meditate on more.

      God bless you, Hester :)

  3. Like I said, I knew this was going to be good. Thank you for your Godly wisdom in my life and for the reminder to love them even when it's difficult. Love you friend. xoxo

    1. Heather,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I truly appreciate your feedback and honesty -- it's hard to love the difficult, but Jesus is our supreme example. ;)

      Much love, HEster ;)

  4. Hester, I'm ashamed to say that I tend to want to avoid high maintenance people. They exhaust me -- and yet, as a Christ-follower I'm not called to avoid those in need of an extra dose of grace (goodness knows that's me most of the time!) I've found myself asking the Lord to help me see others as He sees them and now I plan to put your other wise suggestions into action. Thank you, friend. P.S. Thankful to hear of your own reconciliation praise. :)

    1. Cathy,

      I understand b/c I experience this too! And yes, these are the very ones God needs us to love -- to manifest His love to them through us. So hard, but yet rewarding to be His vessel.

      Much love to you Cathy,
      Hester, :)

  5. Oh Hester, this piece is perfect! I need it, as I have a tendency to harbor some venom with my in-laws. But you're right, I have no justification to do so. Thanks for these steps- you've covered all of them, the hardest being to remember that the offending people are also children of God and that He loves them as much as He loves me. A humbling truth to digest. Thanks for including all of the great verses to memorize!

    1. Julia,

      Oh sweet Julia - we have much in common sister. It is hard to digest as we intentionally focus on the truth that they bear the image of God. And as you added, His love for them (& me) is vital to tearing down those barriers.

      I appreciate your openness to share. God bless you,
      Love, Hester ;)