“See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 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. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”
---End of Scripture verses---
The Lord’s brother paints a very unflattering picture of the human tongue in today’s verses. The tongue is a rudder that guides life’s ship along its way (verse 4). But within it lies the potential for “the very world of iniquity” that can defile “the entire body” and set “the course of our life” on fire and leave a path of destruction and devastation in its wake (verse 6). This conflagration proceeds from “hell” and will lead us to Satan’s domain eternally if we do not place Jesus at the helm of our lives and minds.
The human tongue must always be considered a savage beast that cannot be “tamed” or trusted. We frequently domesticate animals in order to harness their power and enjoy their companionship (verse 7). We work with them, ride them, show them, pet them, play with them and even trust them around our young, vulnerable children. But the tongue must constantly be subdued and restrained. Like a wild animal that paces back and forth in its cage desiring to spring forth and pounce upon its prey, the tongue is “a restless evil” (verse 8). Like the fangs of an adder it is “full of deadly poison” that is toxic and even fatal to the victims of its venomous attacks.
The tongue is the “world of iniquity” and also a world of inconsistency and incongruity. “With it we bless our Father, and with it we curse” the people that He created in His image (verse 9). How preposterous it must be to our Creator to hear sweet songs of worship and praise on the Lord’s Day, and then the malicious words of bitterness and hatred that pour forth from our lips as we interact with humanity throughout the week. It “ought not to be this way” with us brethren. Cage the beast. Bridle the tongue (James 2:26). Defang the viper. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 2:19). Let your words be a “fountain” of fresh flowing water that blesses and invigorates people’s lives.
Please read James 3:13-18 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
- Louie Taylor