“Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.” (James 3:5b)
We have all watched television screens showing wildfires burning out of control. Some of them burn hundreds of thousands of acres of trees, but they don’t stop there. They burn everything in their path. We have witnessed homeowners standing and watching their expensive homes go up in flames, and our hearts have gone out to them. Wildfires destroy more than just property. They create untold havoc.
If you were to take about 4 square feet of a wildfire, however, and transport it into a fireplace on a cold winter night, you would have a totally different effect. Or, if you were to take it and put it in a small, confined circle lined by rocks – what we call a “campfire” – surrounded by a family with marshmallows and hot dogs, you would have still another effect.
James compares the tongue and its power to that of a small fire. It can be used to destroy and bring chaos. It can also be used to bring blessing. But it should not do both. James says that sometimes out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. He says that man has tamed all kinds of animals but cannot seem to tame the tongue. Indeed, our mouths can create difficult problems either for us or for others, but that fact does not make it all right. Are we to shrug our shoulders and just give up?
The reality is that man cannot tame the tongue, but the Holy Spirit can. He does that when we bring the meditations of our hearts and the words of our mouths to Him and submit them to His control. We have to put the tongue under “new management.” And what we need to understand is that the tongue is rooted in the heart. So that is where we need to let the Spirit of God reside and rule.
Lord, We bring first our hearts to You and submit them to you anew today, and we pray that You will bring Your control and influence to bear on the meditations of our hearts and the words of our mouths. Amen.