Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things.
Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles! And the tongue
is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our
members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire
the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
James 3:5, 6
disconnected, but in fact he is dealing with the myriads of difficulties and problems that a church can face. In this portion of scripture he addresses the tongue.
It is summer in British Columbia and the media is showing us very vivid pictures of large fires within our province. James says our tongue with a little spark can set on fire a large force. He is warning of our speech and he wants us to take it to heart. His warnings should cause reflection, correction, and a new awareness in our church life.
Over the years I have seen the destructive power of the tongue. I have watched the havoc that it has wrecked in the lives of good people, repentant people, and people who have a desire to move on. It is appalling to see how many individuals get stuck in the past and are not able to move on and realize that people change. The story can be years old and yet they are told in a way that you think it happened yesterday. Why do progressive people of the word of God get so horribly stuck in the past? Often the information that is shared can be as much as second hand or third
hand in its explanation. Stories come exaggerated and questionable. The result of this is in its retelling. We perpetuate
whatever exaggeration, non-truth, or false information that we have heard.
This week I spoke with someone who was gravely and unjustly spoken about. This individual held a leadership role and
out of that position was unquestioned. It caused real damage to the persons spoken of. I am convinced that the church has done a great injustice by such things. It makes it unsafe and dangerous. People become discouraged and virtually give up on being relational with each other in the body of Christ.
The story that I tell you was not in our church gathering, but was beyond us. We, in this fellowship, need to develop and continue to walk in humility. Our sins, which have been many that cost Jesus Christ his life, have been forgiven. We as believers have the power to forgive and release others or we bear the consequences of being involved in conversations that destroy others. I believe that we are a safe church, but it takes vigilance to maintain it. We must give up our right to judge and understand that all have been made equal by His shed blood.
I conclude with this reasoning from James. Let’s use our mouths for praise and not cursing. Let’s allow fresh water not salt water to flow. Let our fruits be those of forgiving and understanding, refusing to hear false witness against our brothers and sisters in Christ.