James 3 The Words We Use

How you communicate should reflect who you are as a son or daughter of God. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind. Good language that uplifts, encourages, and compliments others invites the Spirit to be with you. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith, hope, and charity.

Choose friends who use good language. Help others improve their language by your example. Be willing to politely walk away or change the subject when those around you use inappropriate language.

James 3:2-8 reads, “For in many things we aoffend all. If any man boffend not in cword, the same is a dperfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the agovernor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and aboasteth great things. Behold, how great a bmatter a little fire kindleth! And the atongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the atongue can no man tame; it is an bunruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

We had a good discussion on times when we have all said things we shouldn’t have said. Because of this, we should all work to not become offended when others make the same mistake. Most students of the scriptures have had experiences that they want to share when they have made mistakes in this area. Sometimes we misunderstand something someone has said to us and these small misunderstandings turn into large problems.

The Savior was the master teacher. He always took the time to see the good and to express love and concern for others, even when he was in great pain. On the cross, he sought John and asked that he take care of his mother. (John 19:26-27). In the midst of agony, Jesus healed Malchus, the man that Peter struck in the ear with the sword (Luke 22:5-51).

Elder David A. Bednar shared the following illustration of how a woman’s words had the ability to heal hearts. This story has had a significant impact in the lives of many seminary students:

Early one summer morning, I received a phone call from a dear sister and friend informing me of a tragic automobile accident that had just occurred involving three teenage girls from our stake. Our friend indicated one of the young women had already been pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and that the two other young women were badly injured and presently were being transported to a regional medical center.  She further reported that the identity of the deceased young woman was not yet known.  There was urgency in her voice, but there was no panic or excessive alarm.  She then asked if I could go to the hospital, meet the ambulance when it arrived, and assist in identifying the young women.  I answered that I would leave immediately.

During the course of our telephone conversation and as I listened to both the information being conveyed and the voice of our friend, I gradually became aware of two important things.  First, this friend’s daughter was one of the young women involved in the accident.  Our friend lived approximately 35 miles from the hospital and therefore needed the assistance of someone who lived closer to the city.  Second, I detected that the mother simultaneously was using two telephone handsets simultaneously – one pressed to each of her ears.  I became aware that as she was talking with me, she was also talking with a nurse at a small rural hospital who had initially attended to the three accident victims.  Our friend was receiving updated information about the condition of the young women in the very moment she was informing me about the accident and requesting my help.  I then heard one of the most remarkable things I have ever heard in my life.

I faintly heard the nurse telling this faithful mother and friend that the young woman pronounced dead at the scene of the accident had been positively identified as her daughter.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  I was listening to this good woman in the very moment that she learned of the death of her precious daughter.  Without hesitation, and with a calm and most deliberate voice, our friend next said, “President Bednar, we must get in contact with the two other mothers.  We must let them know as much as we can about the condition of their daughters and that they will soon be admitted into the hospital.”

The Christlike character of this devoted woman was manifested in her immediate and almost instinctive turning outward to attend to the needs of other suffering mothers.  There was no self-pity; there was no self-absorption; there was no turning inward. It was a moment and a lesson that I have never forgotten.  At a time of of ultimate grief, this dear friend reached outward when I likely would have turned inward.

I then drove to the hospital with a concern in my heart for the well-being of the two other beautiful young women who had been involved in the accident.  Little did I realize that the lessons I would learn about Christlike character–lessons taught by seemingly ordinary disciples – were just beginning.

I arrived at the hospital and proceeded to the emergency room.  After properly establishing who I was and my relationship to the victims, I was invited into two different treatment areas to identify the injured young women.  It was obvious that their respective wounds were serious and life threatening.  And the lovely countenances and physical features of these young women had been badly marred.  Within a relatively short period of time, the two remaining young women died.  All three of these virtuous, lovely, and engaging young women – who seemed to have so much of life in front of them – suddenly had gone home to their Eternal Father.

My attention and the attention of the respective families now shifted to funeral arrangements and logistics. A day or so later, in the midst of program planning and detail arranging for the three funerals, I received a phone call from the Relief Society president of my home ward.  Her daughter had been one of the victims in the accident, and she and I had talked several times about her desires for the funeral program.  This faithful woman was a single mother rearing her only child – her teenage daughter.  I was especially close to this woman and her daughter having served as both their bishop and stake president.  After reviewing and finalizing several details for the funeral of her daughter, this good sister said to me, “President, I am sure it was difficult for you to see my daughter in the emergency room the other day.  She was severely injured and disfigured.  As you know, we will have a closed casket at the funeral.  I have just returned from the funeral home, and they have helped my daughter to look so lovely again.  I was just wondering – why don’t we arrange a time when we can meet at the mortuary and you can have one last look at her before she is buried.  Then your final memories of my daughter will not be the images you saw in the emergency room.”   I listened and marveled at the compassion and thoughtfulness this sister had for me.  Her only daughter had just been tragically killed, but she was concerned about the potentially troublesome memories I might have given my experience in the emergency room.  In this good woman I detected no self-pity and no turning inward.  Sorrow, certainly.  Sadness, absolutely.  Nevertheless, she reached outward when many or perhaps most of us would have turned inward with sorrow and grief.

Let me describe one final episode related to these three tragic deaths.  On the day of her daughter’s funeral, this Relief Society president from my home ward received a phone call from an irritated sister in our ward.  The complaining sister did not feel well, and she caustically berated the Relief Society president for not being thoughtful or compassionate enough to arrange for meals to be delivered to her home.  Time and circumstances made delegating the task complicated, so, just hours before the funeral of her only child, this remarkable Relief Society president prepared and delivered a meal to the grumbling sister. 1


1. Elder David A. Bednar, Act In Doctrine: Spiritual patterns for turning from self to the Savior, Deseret Book, 2012, p. 15-17.

About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives: LDSScriptureTeachings.org
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