The Tongue of Fire

These words from James, the half-brother of Jesus, remind me of a couple things today.

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 3:6 NIV)

First of all, it reminds me of bullying my wife talked about happening at school last week. It can be amazing, shocking, and sad (all at the same time) to witness how cruel kids can be to each other at times. Negative, attacking language can be like a poison. The words of children, even young ones, can be incredibly destructive.

The second thing it reminds me of is a conversation my wife I had last week, talking about the use of what might be termed, “stinkin’ thinkin’.” In many ways, we are both struggling with perceptions of failure. Some of this is financial, and some is also related to our family and professional work. We are not failures, and we are not failing, but there is a great temptation to not only view ourselves in this way but also talk about ourselves in this way. We are not and would not talk about each other this way, but in the past we have used the self talk of failure. This is incredibly destructive, and at least this time I was and am able to see it for the poison it is.

Perceptions of ourselves as failures do not come from the Spirit of God. They come from a spirit of evil, which seeks to destroy rather than build up. These words from James remind me how important words are, and how important it is that I take charge of my own tongue, even when I am using self-talk and language that only I can hear.