October 29, 2018
James 3:5-6… So also, the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
This warning is so direct we sometimes ignore it, figuring that it must not apply to us. If someone is near or around you that is a busy-body or a gossip, you are inclined to avoid them and not tell them things. The course of their life has been set by their tongue. That simple example shows the effect of the tongue on life. The forest ablaze is not only a picture of evil… although that is in view. It is also a picture of cause and effect. Someone who expresses joy and hope on a continual basis is a delight to be around and people are often around. James’s earlier analogy about a ship’s rudder is also factored into this statement.
James 1:4… Look at the ships also; though they are so large and driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder, wherever the will of the pilot directs.
The last phrase of that statement is included in the message today. Not only do we stop our tongue from causing damage, we will it to restore and rejuvenate others. Do you consider your tongue as an instrument of righteousness or is it only a cause of trouble?
James 3:6a… The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.
Possibly missing from this statement is the word, “unbridled” before the word, “tongue.” The tongue is a specific member of the body. We are not better off without it; we just need to control it. When it is free to express the negativity that comes from our evil heart of unbelief, it is an instrument of unrighteousness. It must be guided to express the glory of God.
Fire is not always a picture of rampant evil. On the day of Pentecost, it was representative of the Holy Spirit coming into the hearts of people. Imagine your tongue being involved in that fire… Being “silent” is not the only way to stop your tongue from starting evil fires. Reprogramming it is another way.