|Photo courtesy of Southwalton.com|
While we realize the danger which a fire can pose, we often do not realize that within in own lives we carry an inflammatory member with us wherever we go. If we are not careful how we use it, we can create a good deal of destruction to those around us. I am referring, of course, to the tongue. James, in his letter to believers, spoke at length about this member of the body that can create so many problems:
"How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 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. For every king of beast and bird, of reptile
and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame
the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father
and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth
come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour
forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives
or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water" (James 3:5b-12).
James is correct to say that our tongues represent a real problem. I have more than once in my life
caused pain by merely using my tongue as a means of striking back at another. A word "punch" can often do more damage than a physical one; so when we hear the well used phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me", we must be aware that this is simply not true. There are so many people out there that have experienced the pain of emotional abuse at the hands of someone whose tongue was unleashed against them. When it comes from a Christian, it damages not only the hearer but also shipwrecks the testimony of the one who speaks the words.
|Photo courtesy of fireinflorida.ifas.ufl.edu|
All manner of evil speaking comes from that one small member of our body. Gossip, lying, blasphemy, cursing, slander and false vows have a way of corrupting our entire character and staining our witness for Christ. Like James, I know what fires and destruction can come when we unleash the tongue. Jesus said: "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:46). Think about that. What is in our heart, the Lord was saying, is what comes out of our mouth. This puts things in a whole new perspective. We can look so good on the outside, but when no one is looking, what do we really say that reflects what is inside our heart?
|Photo courtesy of srh.noaa.com|
Most importantly, we need to do just what this acronym says before we speak: THINK!
Controlling wild fires in Florida is a full time job during the winter months, but so is controlling our tongues. Without the aid of the Holy Spirit, we cannot do this. Each morning before we step out into a new day, we need to pray as David did when he said: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). Only we can prevent the fires of hurt by keeping watch over our tongues. Selah!
I welcome your comments and thoughts. They are precious to me and I read each one.