The Tongue Is a Fire

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” (Jas 3:6)

Speech is powerful. Spoken words can either encourage or discourage. The Scripture teaches believers to control the tongue and to speak words of kindness.

James warns us of the unruly nature of the tongue and teaches us why we as believers must control our speech. He describes the tongue as bits that bridle horses, rudders that turn ships, and fire that kindles a forest. Although it’s small, the tongue can have a great influence. In terms of speech, common mistakes include boasting, flattering, lying, gossiping, backbiting, slandering, cursing, coarse jesting, filthy or foolish talking, and all evil speaking. As fire kindles and rises up into a flame, so harsh and angry words stir up the flame of anger and revenge. As fire is of a spreading nature, so are lies, scandals, and evil reports vented by the tongue. Such evil speech destroys the reputation of others and causes us to sin with our lips.

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph 4:29)

In Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul underscores the significance of communication and gives advice about verbal behavior. We Christians are to speak the truth in love, control angry emotion and words, speak words of encouragement and forgiveness, and avoid unkind or bitter speech. Gentle words will not stir up the anger of the opponent. They can save ourselves and at the same time guides others to the way of life.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov 15:1)

We must make an effort to cultivate meekness, so we may remain calm in dealing with things and not be driven by impulse to speak rashly.

James says, “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (Jas 3:2). The tongue is the most difficult to control; so if we are able to control our tongue and not sin in our speech, we will also be able to avoid committing other sins. Since evil speech comes from evil thoughts, controlling our tongue starts with having a pure heart. If our hearts are filled with God’s love, and if our mind always meditates on the word of God, we will naturally speak words of edification.

Leave a Reply