A Nation Set on Fire, by the Tongue

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.” –James 3:5-6

The tongue has set fire to our nation, politically, spiritually, and in almost every other way. It’s ravaging our land, our communities, and our homes, and all hands are needed on deck to stop it . . . before it’s too late!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Some use their power to bless, others to curse. Some use their power to build up, others to tear down. Some use their power to unite, others to divide.

In reading this, the first temptation might be to think of someone else (or the other political party), to blame and point fingers. But that’s exactly what not to do. The answer to our nation’s division does not lie in anyone other than ourselves.

Hear God’s Word from James 3: 2-12. It’s a powerful and sobering message about the tongue, which places the responsibility on each of us individually to seek God’s help to tame our tongues. Despite the political tensions between Democrats and Republicans and the ugliness of the media, I will continue believe in (and pray for) a world where kindness wins, where tongues are used to bless, not curse, to build up, not to tear down. Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem. It all begins by recognizing that we all stumble in many ways, especially in our ability to communicate. Hear God’s Word…

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Let’s consider our words…

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

When we consider that every word (and every social media post) holds power, and how incapable we really are of wielding that power apart from God, maybe we’d go to God more often in prayer before we begin our day, and open our mouths. We really don’t need to rehash or repost every opinion and news update and fan the flames that are already ravaging our land. I am certain that with prayer, kindness, and a bit of creativity we can find better and more uplifting ways of expression. May God help us, and may God heal our land.

Pray with me:

Father, set a guard over my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh God, my strength and my Redeemer. Amen.

(Prayer inspired by Psalm 143:1 and Psalm 19:14)

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