The tongue is a small instrument that holds great power to direct either for good or for bad. James likens it to the bit that directs the powerful horse, and the rudder that directs the big ship. If used appropriately, the rudder can guide the ship safely across the water and into port. But in the hands of the wrong captain, it can direct the boat right onto the rocks. Truly the tongue is a small but powerful tool…
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! (James 3:5)
You have likely heard about the great Chicago fire of October 8, 1871. A fire reportedly started in a barn and spread from there. By the time its fury was spent over 100,000 people were left homeless, over 17,000 buildings were destroyed, and 300 people died. The financial cost to the city was more than $400 million (which was an enormous amount in that day).
It’s the same thing with a forest fire. It only takes a spark to start a fire, and if that fire is not contained it can spread rapidly. It is often someone’s negligence that causes a fire to get out of control. When I watch the footage of a giant forest fire on the news I wonder if it was started by a person, and then I feel bad for that person. I would hate to be in their position, knowing what I had caused. A lot of manpower, money, and resources had to be put into action to “fix” their mistake, but not everything could be fixed. Much was destroyed, and people may have died.
I think this is one of those lessons that writes itself. You don’t need me to point out the obvious, but I will anyway. Just like a poorly tended campfire can cause a huge forest fire, a poorly tended tongue can start a chain reaction that creates a firestorm of hurtful words. The tongue can destroy friendships, marriages, families, and churches, and it can all begin with a few poorly chosen words that are not properly contained.
Today’s Good News is that we can prevent a lot of destruction if we carefully contain our tongue.
Now, go share the Good News…
FAITH in ACTION!
If you are joining us part way through this Journey in James, you can access the devotionals you have missed in the archives. (The series started on June 1.)
If this is your first visit to this website, please read the “Featured Post” from March 1, 2018.