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Examine Scripture

Tongue of Fire

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James 3:5-9…

The words that come off our tongue can do as much damage as they do good:

…the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God.  -James 3:5-9, NAB

Over and over again, we focus our Christian lives on using our words to lift up Christ and build the Church, but before we do that, maybe we should put a stop to the damage done by our lies, deceit, and unkind words.

We can set the world ablaze with our tongue of fire – and not in a good way.  Our evil words do damage to the people and the world around us, and as much as we try to do good in the world, it has little impact compared to the fire we’ve set with evil words.  It’s like throwing a bucket of water on a forest fire – it’s going to take a lot more than that to put out that large of a blaze.

On Sunday, we may profess Christ with our lips.  On Saturday, we may devote a couple of hours working with one ministry or another.  But if we spend the rest of the week defiling the name of Christ by our evil words, the world will notice, and we may be doing more damage than good.

Where does this evil tongue of fire come from?  The fires of Gehenna – Hell itself.  It is an attempt by the evil one to separate us from Christ using our own words.  As Christians, we become our own worst enemy.

At Pentecost, the disciples received a different tongue of fire (Acts 2:3).  This tongue of fire was given to them to share the Gospel with the world, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and it is this tongue of fire that we must focus our lives on.

If the evil tongue comes from hell, this good, pure tongue of fire draws its power directly from heaven, given to us by the Holy Spirit.  Our every word should draw from this power, whether we are sharing our faith or simply having a normal conversation.  Our words should lift up the world, not tear it down.

Our tongue can have a powerful effect on the world around us.  It can start an uncontrollable forest fire, destroying everything in its path, or it can speak the blessings of Christ on a world that desperately needs it.  Let’s stop destroying the world with our evil words, and start rebuilding it by sharing the powerful words given to us by the Holy Spirit.

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