Daily Riches: Reigning in a Critical Spirit (Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Henri Nouwen)

“Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words. It is certain that the spirit of self-justification can be overcome only by the Spirit of grace; nevertheless, isolated thoughts of judgment can be curbed and smothered by never allowing them the right to be uttered…. Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. …People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” James 3:2-10

“It is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation
if people wouldn’t be better served by our silence
than by our words.”
Henri Nouwen

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think about your conversations at church. Do you tend to say whatever occurs to you? Could you determine never to speak in defense of yourself or in judgment of another?
  • Does your congregation have a “decisive rule … that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him?”
  • Both James and Bonhoeffer admit the difficulty of controlling our words. Even so, both men seem to suggest that we will control ourselves by controlling our words. Can you control your words?

Abba, may my words be surrounded by much silence and informed by much love.


For More: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


These “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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