If it’s true, then we really do need to take heed. If it’s as easy to be derailed by it as James says it is, and if it’s really so universally at play as James claims it is, then to be aware of it is just smart thinking. If what might appear to be so innocuous to us really can wreak such havoc and cause such destruction, then we’d do well to take note of it, to take inventory of it, and, if required, to take action concerning it.
It? It is the tongue.
. . . no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
(James 3:8 ESV)
Really? A restless evil? Filled with deadly poison? Untamable by any human being? A world of unrighteousness (3:6)? Staining the whole body? Capable of setting on fire the entire course of life with the fire of hell itself? A problem for all mankind with unlimited potential to cause extensive damage? Really? Is this true? Evidently — if, in fact, all Scripture is God-breathed (and it is).
True for the redeemed as well? A potential reality for the Christ follower? Apparently.
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
(James 3:9 ESV)
The tongue. A small member yet boasts great things (3:5a). Like a bridle in the mouth of a snorting stallion, or like a small rudder on a great ship, almost imperceptible yet capable of steering massive things in whatever direction they choose (3:3-4). Like a small camp fire, though capable of providing much needed heat and warmth for the few hovered over it, just as capable of setting a massive forest ablaze marring it’s landscape for generations (3:5b).
Really? Yeah, really.
Tell me we don’t see evidence of the tongue influencing, and the tongue maligning, and the tongue destroying, as we scroll down the tongue’s modern megaphone, our social media feeds. People who never would have said an unkind word to someone in person, without apparent hesitation ready to share and re-post the fire-igniting words of others. A generation raised not to call others names, seemingly quick to slap labels on strangers (and friends often) for what they think they know about what they believe. At least in James’ day it took a while for “word of mouth” to spread the fires of slander and misinformation. Today, a press of the button and the tongue which blesses God and yet curses image-bearers of God has an audience of friends, and friends of friends, almost instantaneously.
Didn’t really start out intending this to be a rant on social media. So, it’s not.
But if what James says about the tongue is true, then I really do need to take heed.
Pause. Reflect. Acknowledge. Repent.
And, by His power in me, and really wanting to reflect more of the One who lives through me, tame the untamable.
By His grace. For His glory.