This week we will be celebrating July 4th with all of its hoopla and yes, fireworks. Our tongues, James says, are like those fireworks. They erupt with power and noise yet leave a residue that is unbecoming. Our author James is comparing our tongue to the power of fire or fireworks. it erupts with the spark of a match yet can be deadly if not handled carefully.
James doesn’t just use words to this flock to whom he is writing and far from his presence, but he is wanting them and us to observe and analyze our world around us. What do you see, what do you hear, what is the effect of these images? Words may reveal a truth but visual images grab our attention and stay with us. For example, as we observe the waves of the sea, the wind, a wildflower in a meadow, the rising and setting of the sun, our attention is arrested to see our physical world around us, how it arrives and passes away with time. A crown of life, the Father of lights, a mirror, a gold ring and fine clothing vs filthy clothes, a prostitute named Rahab, bring our attention to God and His character. A ship and its rudder, a horse and its bridle bring our attention to how men have learned to control both physical objects and animals. But, now he will use the image of fire. James is trying to get us to see how desperate we are to be children of God but without Him having first place we are facing a spiritual battle that cannot be won.
Our tongue, James says, is a small part of our body yet it has great pretensions—that is it is boastful and arrogant just like a fireworks presentation. Our tongue represents the worst of us because it is ignited with just a small flame. It can be only controlled by timing and care. Fire too, if not quenched becomes destructive. It starts small and then is fanned by the wind destroying all in its path. The tongue slanders, is a false witness, is scolds, boasts, flatters, profanes the Word of God, swears, seduces, murmurs, scoffs and is unjust. Beloved, these should not be—- but we seem to be helpless because we have not put our mind in gear before we unleash the power of the tongue.
The psalmist gives a way to handle this unruly member.”
“Lord, place a guard on my mouth! Protect the opening of my lips!” [Ps 141]
I need this prayer today and every day. I need to post it where I will see it and hide it in my heart that I might not sin against Him whom I call Lord and Savior. How about you?