August 25, 2020
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 25 August 2020
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 (James 3:5b-6).
Pyromania is defined as an irresistible impulse to start fires. We have all seen too often the destruction wrought by a wildfire sparked by someone carelessly playing with fire. In only seconds, a spark can ignite a fire raging without control, leaving complete ruin in its path. Continuing with the biblical teaching with regard to the power of our words, James 3 uses fire to depict the destruction we often work with our tongues. Each of us must admit that we commit acts of pyromania every once in a while.
James 3:3-5 illustrate the incredible power of the tongue by means of several examples. The first illustration depicts the tremendous discrepancy between the thing being controlled (a horse, a ship) and the size of the controlling instrument (a bit, a rudder), which proves that something small in size can indeed control a much larger object. The second illustration depicts how something great in size, such as a sailing vessel, can be directed by the strength of the winds, which the small rudder is able to use for direction. Similarly, the tongue is a small member of our bodies, yet can boast of having an influence upon our lives which is disproportionate to its relative size.
Though small when compared to other parts of your body, the tongue holds a place among them that grants it unusually great power, both for good and evil. James 3 focuses upon the destructive power of the tongue. In a sense, the tongue represents the entire spectrum of wrongdoing we see in this fallen world of ours — all that is evil, all that stains and corrupts the soul, and all that destroys human capability. James 3 teaches that the source of this gross misuse of the tongue’s power is actually hell. What a sobering thought!
Do you think it is likely that you will be witness to a raging wildfire being set today through a careless word? Will you be the one who starts it? Will you allow that spark to pass through your lips? The truth is that we all struggle with pyromania. James 3 identifies self-control in our speech as a primary indication of spiritual maturity. Take a moment to reflect upon the destructive potential of your words. Join me in applying the biblical teaching found in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”