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Transforming a Tongue

Ask most people which of the 12 disciples elicits a knowing smile and I believe the majority would cite Peter. We read of this developing disciple leaving his fishing business to follow Jesus all the way to his failure and restoration on the beach in John 21. He is lovable, loyal and bumbling and almost always too quick to speak.

Ask most people which of the 12 disciples elicits a knowing smile and I believe the majority would cite Peter. We read of this developing disciple leaving his fishing business to follow Jesus all the way to his failure and restoration on the beach in John 21. He is lovable, loyal and bumbling and almost always too quick to speak. Many of us see our own tendencies reflected in Peter and identify with him in our hasty words and even actions.

This past week in the study of of Acts 3 I discovered something brand new to me. Clearly I had acknowledged before the dramatic change in Peter after Pentecost. The same man who just days before huddled around a fire and fearfully disclaimed any relationship with Jesus now fearlessly and boldly declares the resurrection and the gospel in the face of those same religious enemies. His actions reveal the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

However, what struck me in this week’s study was a shift in the content and style of Peter’s arguments. When confronted by the religious leaders after healing the man lame from birth, Peter’s response echoes the powerful style of Jesus as He frequently responded to His critics. There is a new subtlety in Peter’s words placing those opponents on the proverbial “horns of a dilemma.”

Now filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit the same profound and subtle wisdom of Jesus’s words is evident in Peter. His natural extroverted personality now reveals a tongue directed and shaped by the power of God. The difference is startling. It leads even those listening to comment “they have been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

Most encouraging to me is realizing that same wisdom and power is available to me today as I submit myself to Jesus’ leadership. When I do my words and my actions, just as Peter’s, will be more reflective of the Savior. Conversely, when my words and actions do not reflect Him I can recognize that I am not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. I fear I too often live as the pre-resurrection Peter and my words betray my heart.

The tongue cannot be tamed by human effort (James 3:8) but we see the power of the Holy Spirit rule and empower it to serve God’s purposes.

Today’s prayer: Lord, set a watch over my mouth by the power of your Holy Spirit. (Psalms 121:3)

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Gwynne Johnson

Gwynne Johnson currently serves on the Board of Entrust, Inc., an international education and training mission where she authored the Entrust curriculum, Developing a Discerning Heart. She recently served as Co-Chair of the training project, Christian Women in Partnership, Russia and as Senior Director of Women's Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Gwynne has a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She currently lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband of 58 years, Don. She works part-time in her daughter and granddaughter's bakery "The Best Box Ever," where she gets paid in cookies.