Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3, verses 5-6.
When was the last time you had a family fight? My Hunnie and I are the patient parents of 2 ex-teenagers and 1-current teenager. We aren’t sure when these argumentative people replaced the sweet children we once knew, but it happened some time in the late 1990s or early 2K years. Not to describe too much dirty laundry, but I was eavesdropping on a conversation my wife had with one of our daughters. Dear daughter must have had a rough day because she was sniping, trying to pick a fight. It’s something that teenagers – or recently recovering teenagers known as “20 year olds” – are particularly good at. Instead of downloading from her day, she was throwing out verbal grenades, seeing which one would explode and elicit a reaction. God bless my patient wife for being the Verbal Grenade Bomb Squad, who deftly, faithfully, and patiently defused every grenade thrown her way.
The tongue is a very small part of the body that makes great boasts. As folks say in my small Indiana hometown, “your mouth can overload your butt.” Remembering that the tongue is like the bit in the mouth of a horse, or the rudder on a ship, it’s easy to see how the tongue can overload your butt. I think James might agree with that rather earthy vernacular.
It doesn’t take much for words we say to overtake us. It doesn’t take much for the fire set by our words to burn out of control and consume everything around us. Indeed, social media, 24/7 information access, text messaging and our so-called modern world make it even easier for a shot to be heard round the world. Or words. Sometimes, as in hurtful language, that’s not a bad thing, especially if there’s repentance or justice involved.
After all, it’s good to remember that God’s grace is meant for all of us, that His word can be like a consuming fire as well. After all, didn’t Jesus set the world on fire with His words of forgiveness from the cross, changing more lives in human history than any other belief ever known? After all, didn’t God simply speak everything into existence? After all, God’s word trumps any of ours.
After all, consider the fight that turns into screaming, tears, separation and divorce. Consider what happened when Joseph’s brothers transformed their envy over his status into selling Joseph into slavery. Consider all this the next time your kids fight with you.
Lord of the Word and all words, speak Your love through me.
How have your words started a fire?
When did someone else’s words hurt you, and what did you do about it?
How can what you say be a beacon of light for Jesus today?