James 3:5-6: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
As I sit down to write this, there are currently four wildfires raging across Colorado: The Pine Gulch Fire (87k acres), The Grizzly Creek Fire (25k acres); Williams Fork Fire (6k acres), and the Cameron Peak Fire (12k acres).1
Of course, I was also here during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 that burned 18+ acres, destroyed 346 homes, and caused the evacuation of 32k people. The damage totaled over $450 million, all from what started as a brush fire.
Then there was the Black Forest fire in 2013 that burned over 22 square miles and consumed more than 500 homes. 38k people were evacuated, and two souls were lost. This fire started with a small structure fire.
When I was in the military and stationed in Northern California, the fire department tried to do a controlled burn. It wasn’t controlled for very long.
James makes it pretty clear that a person’s tongue can set their life on fire. There are devastating consequences to this.
The tongue can cause a world of evil for the entire body. The biblical term is unrighteousness or failure to adhere to moral principles, commands, or laws. When our language does not reflect any sense of morality, our body is doomed.
The tongue can also corrupt the entire body—corrupt means to stain or defile. Language is powerful enough to influence and discolor our bodies.
If the tongue is so powerful, what is our hope for righteous living? Can this fire-starter be controlled? Find out in the next blog.
Some questions to consider:
-What are some fires you have set with your language? How can you extinguish them?
-How is your language leading you to unrighteousness or corruption?
1 According to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. http://www.coemergency.com/p/maps.html