“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.” (James 3:5-6)
James is what you call a straight-talker. No sugar-coating the truth here. The tongue is a dangerous body part.
There are many things that I have done for which I have great regret. However, what I regret more are some of the things I have said over the years. You can’t take back those wrong words. You can’t rewind the tape and start over. Once careless words have left my mouth, that’s it – I can’t control them any longer. Far too often, they have caused harm to people I love.
James points out that while it is small, the tongue is powerful. We’ve grown accustomed to watching huge forest fires on the news. It only takes a small spark and millions of acres of habitat are destroyed each year. Small things can have a big impact.
Elsewhere in scripture, we learn that the tongue has the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21) What we say to others can encourage and build them up…or quickly destroy them. Most relationships that come to ruin have been brought down by words that have wounded and injured the other person.
Jesus told us that what comes out of our mouth is found first in our heart. (Matthew 15:18) So if we want to ensure that we offer positive words, we have to examine our heart. If our soul is healthy and spiritually in tune with God, then we can have more confidence that what comes out of our mouth will be ‘words of life.’ We could all use the encouragement.