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Double Standards and Quality Control

James 3:9-12
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (NIVUK)

The mess that our world is in all started with the forked-tongue of Satan. In pretending to be wise and logical (Genesis 3:1-5), he seduced mankind into foolishness that contradicted the Word of God, and corrupted human nature. Alas, the human tongue continues to be capable of double standards. To our shame (well, we ought to be ashamed), we find that our mouths contradict what we, half-heartedly, believe to be true (James 1:5-7). Like wild dogs, curses against our fellows can chase out of our mouths, even after we have sung our praises to God. No wonder that both we, and the watching world, become confused.

James is being gentle in his challenge. He called his readers, 'brothers and sisters'. They are his spiritual siblings who equally look to God as their Father and profess Jesus to be their Lord. They have started in the Christian life but have found themselves uncomfortable in their new nature because they have become so used to their old way of life. Those old habits are instinctive, which is why James is exposing them.

The forked tongue belongs to the snake, but such duplicity should never characterise the children of God. It is as unreliable as a rock-spring producing either fresh or salt water according to its mood; fig trees growing olives; or grapevines bearing figs. No farmer could stay in business with such unreliability. Nor should the church. So, a decision to change is essential, along with the perseverance to see it through, because we should not be like that.

Some people think that double standards can be resolved by will-power. Certainly, personal self-discipline is necessary, but the root of the problem is the nature of our heart, which is the well-spring of our life (Proverbs 4:23). That is why we first need to go back to the Lord and ask Him for a clean heart and a right spirit, like David prayed after his moral collapse (Psalm 51:7-12). We cannot have clean mouths if our hearts are full of impurity (Matthew 15:16-19), any more than pure water can come from a salt-polluted spring - so we need a deep-clean of our hearts, which the Lord will gladly do if we are willing to let Him. Then others will see the difference at work and at home, making us productive (Galatians 5:22-26) with the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Gracious God. Thank You for exposing more of my sinful nature. I am ashamed that my mouth displays the double standards of my heart. I know that I need to be fit-for-purpose, as a child of God and so I ask You to deep-clean my heart and give me the desire and perseverance to be single-minded for You. Help me to be alert to my weakness and pray for Your strength as I practise these disciplines at work today. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams