Over the last three weeks, I’ve been studying the book of James and unpacking some familiar verses that now have a refreshed meaning to me.
One thing is sure: James doesn’t mince words. He’s a straightforward guy who isn’t shy when it comes to expressing himself accurately.
Being the younger half-brother of Jesus, I’m sure James was exposed to a supersized Jewish vocabulary. We can be sure that he gleaned profound insights from Jesus’ teachings. Can you imagine the kind of conversations they might have had around the family dinner table? Priceless
Words that move us.
Each morning, as the pages of my Bible flip from side to side, I’ve experienced ah-ha moments, saturated in excitement, making me want to shout out “James, that is exactly right!”
I’ve also had several squirming-in-my-chair moments, which left me feeling like I swallowed a ball cactus.
This morning I found myself digging through James 3:1-12 again, trying not to fidget while sifting through these tough verses on taming the tongue. For a gal who likes to talk a lot, I was unusually silent while resting my sleepy eyes on verse five.
In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. James 3:5 (NLT)
Wouldn’t we all like to speak insightful words that produce tweetable quotes and grand speeches?
I don’t know about you but if I’m not careful, I can quickly create speeches that aren’t so grand. Speeches I certainly wouldn’t want “tweeted” for all the world to see. Speeches like…
- Ten Reasons Why Teenagers Should Not Leave Clothes on the Floor.
- What Happens When You Stay Up Late on a School Night.
- Why Eating a Full Size Bag of Skittles is Not a Good Idea.
Grand speeches are great, but it was the tiny spark that got my attention. Did you see what James wrote about the tiny spark? It can set a great forest on fire.
A Tiny Spark
When I think of fire the first thing that comes to mind is destruction.
Last month while our friends were on vacation, a seemingly harmless battery ignited with a spark, underneath their beautifully decorated Christmas tree and burned the entire house down. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the house and all their belongings were destroyed.
James compares the damage of an uncontrollable tongue to a raging fire. As James penned those words, I wonder if he was speaking out of his own personal struggles? Maybe he witnessed too many harsh words between believers of the early church?
Could it be that “a tiny spark” was more than just harsh words, being served back and forth, like a heated tennis match?
See if any of these resonate with you…
gossiping ~ belittling ~ bragging ~ manipulating ~ complaining ~ lying ~ false teaching ~ exaggerating
I know. Squirming, right?
Which one do you identify with most? Which one makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up? Which one would the Enemy try to tattoo on your heart, if he could?
Unfortunately, I can identify with more of these than I’d like to admit. But, I have a plan that I think will help us.
Let’s agree that the next time we’re about to speak an unpleasant word that could hurt others and displease God, we will pause first and ask ourselves these three questions:
1. Is what I want to say true?
2. Is what I want to say kind?
3 Is what I want to say necessary?
If our answer is no to any of the above questions, let’s choose wisely and keep that spark from igniting. Are you up for the challenge? I am.
Now it’s your turn
Today’s Question: What situations are most difficult for you when it comes to taming your tongue? What do you hope others are saying about you?