Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Danger of the Tongue

 Wednesday, August 4, 2021  

Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! James 3:3-5

The Danger of the Tongue 

The tongue is the strongest muscle in entire body.  A damaging word spoken in secret is much like a chigger bite…you can't see the damage until it gets serious. 

The tongue is the connecting link between the inner man and the outer world. For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. Matthew 12:34  It expresses the thoughts, mind, attitude, and intentions of man. It can reveal the true nature of man whether transformed or unrighteous. 

"Guard well thy tongue it stretches far, for what you say tells who you are." 

The Tongue’s Evil is Deep and Wide 

In the passage above James dwells on the potential for evil rather than the potential for good with one's tongue.  He adopts a new image appropriate for his topic: fire. The effect of this choice of image can be shown by comparing it to another possible image. 

·      If he had compared the tongue to an ax, he could have portrayed quite vividly a destruction of a large tree by a small tool. 

·      Instead of such an isolated act of destruction however, James chose to portray a spreading destruction.  An ax destroys one tree at a time; but with our tongues one word can start a destructiveness that spreads beyond the initial act. 

It is true that someone who is hateful with their tongue will be hateful with other aspects of their behavior. If we do not discipline and purify our speech, we will not discipline or purify the rest of our life. 

James 3 says the uncontrolled tongue… 

1.    …is a world of evil--a whole world of wrongdoing and wickedness, a vast system of iniquity. The phrase implies a multitude of forms that our impure speech may take. 

2.    …corrupts the whole person--an image of a staining and defiling spread of sin from wicked speech into all other behavior. The contrasting pattern, using the same term in the form of a negative adjective, was in 1:27--keeping oneself unstained or unpolluted by the world. 

3.    …sets on fire the course of one's life-- depicts the tongue's wickedness as a conflagration spreading through the time span of one's life as well as the diversity of one's behavior. 

4.    …is itself set on fire by hell -- the same verb that described the action by the tongue is applied now in passive voice to expose the true origin of the tongue's blazing power to destroy. James picks up the term gehenna ("hell"). It is hard to imagine a more condemning way to conclude this description of the uncontrolled tongue

While most people are careful to guard their behavior, few really understand the great power of speech.  There is nothing “innocent” about words.  Satan has destroyed more with the tongues of men than anything else.  We do well to pay attention to our speech.


And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our
 members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the 
course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.  James 3:6

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