Feeding the Flame

James 3:5-6
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

The power of fire is evident in many ways.  With the right kindling, a single match can start a fire that can spread and rage out of control, burning acres and acres of land.  One small spark can cause a whole house to burn to the ground.  Fire is a useful thing, but it can also be a destructive force.  It is amazing that such a small thing as our tongue can equally cause as much destruction as that one match.  If we allow it to be an instrument of evil, it can destroy others and leave us charred and full of smoke and ashes, in danger of being engulfed in those flames ourselves.

The horrifying truth is that the capacity for all manner of evil dwells within our own hearts.  The in-born sin nature is a smoldering fire inside of us that only needs a little bit of oxygen to burst forth from our tongue with hurtful words, untruths, gossip, unkindness, scorn and so many other things that hurt others and show them anger instead of compassion, hate instead of love.  And that one simple sin makes us wholly unclean.  And it ruins our testimony and can turn people away from God instead of drawing them to Him as they run away from the fire we spew out.

Let’s not neglect to be careful in the small things.  So often we are too focused on the big ways we can stumble and fall into sin when within our own mouths is an instrument that can be used for great evil.  And our inability to control even our own tongues shows us just how reliant upon God we need to be in order to live the holy lives He has commanded us to live.

Let’s not allow ourselves to be instruments of evil, contributing to the raging inferno of unchecked sin that seems to be burning all around us today.  And just knowing how much harm we can inflict on others should cause us to be much more diligent in the things we say and how we say them.  Let’s set ourselves apart in this way, as well, not using our words to singe and burn others, but to soothe and comfort and encourage those who are weary around us.