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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

The Tongue Is A Fire

girl with finger over mouth in shhh gesture

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. 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.” James 3:6

Reflect for a moment on the words of James. If you are like me, you are uncomfortable. Too often we like to think that if anyone is judicious with words, it’s me!!! But, with a bit more honest reflection and remembrance, we can all recall those “words” which we spoke, that now, with a more honest reflection, frankly embarrass us!

The consequence of the words that come from our tongues is far more serious than we often remember. Or, want to remember!!!

The tongue is a fire that burns so intently and so broadly that it often results in a world of unrighteousness. In Ephesians 4 Paul describes some of the fruit of unrighteousness. “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity….” He goes on to remind us that we have put off lying, anger, stealing, corrupt talk, bitterness, wrath, clamor, slander, and, malice. The tongue is indeed a wildfire.

The result for Christians is that it stains, “the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life.” Too often, spoken words can be forgiven, but not forgotten. They unleash all of the worst attributes in humanity, destroying relationships, and can even “kill” another, metaphorically.

With this assessment, it is little wonder that James identifies the source of this challenge: “set on fire by hell.” Satan loves a good fight! And there is no better way to release all of the elements of a “good fight” than to release the tongue to “speak our mind!”

What to do about this challenge that clings to us until we are released from this flesh to the freedom of our presence with Jesus? The Spirit of God gives us the answer through James. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

God’s word is the refining power that God uses to form the life of Jesus in us. With the word of God daily placed in our minds, the Spirit begins to build sensitivity to what comes out of our mouths. Over time we expect that we will have more “wins” than failures.


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