By Dave Frodsham, pastor, Jubilee Church Wirral
THE TONGUE IS A FIRE!
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21)
According to James, the tongue is a fire which is able to impact our whole bodies and can cause great destruction.
As he puts it, “it is a world of unrighteousness” – but one with which we are able to bless God as well.
Fire, as we know, can be used for good when controlled for heating and cooking but out of control it can destroy a whole house.
The tongue then has great power and we should therefore be careful with the words we say and how we say them.
In James 3, which is all about taming the tongue, he starts by saying not many of you should be teachers – for as you know teachers will have to give an account of what they have taught.
So in any context of teaching, however big or small, whether we think it is significant or not we need to take it seriously; we need to be confident that what we are teaching is right, having asked God to direct us.
In all contexts of using speech, whether teaching or not, we need to careful of what we say and how we speak to people.
Paul tells the Ephesians that they need to speak the truth in love.
This is a measure of the maturity of our relationship with God and how we are following Jesus.
He says: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15)
Jesus called us to love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength – but also to love our neighbour as ourself.
Therefore, withholding the truth that someone needs to know is not being truthful or loving, but telling someone the truth without showing love is unloving and doesn’t honour the truth either.
The Bible tells us that we need wisdom to help us to use our tongues to bless God and honour our fellow men and women, who are made in his image.
What it comes down to is this: We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, a new fire comes down which kindles new powers in the disciples and enables them to freely declare God’s mighty works in different tongues or languages.
What sort of things should our speech be filled with if we have received this wisdom from above?
It should be pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17-18).
Let’s ask God again to fill us with His Holy Spirit and wisdom so we can set a fire not for destruction but to see a harvest of righteousness wherever we go.
Dave Frodsham, pastor, Jubilee Church Wirral