Spread The Word
Read James 3:5-6 (ESV)
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
Have your words ever spread farther than you intended and did more damage than ever imagined?
Did you know that at least 85% of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans? It’s true, according to the National Parks Service website. Yes, some are intentional acts of arson, but most wildfires are accidental. One person just doesn’t thoroughly douse their campfire and a smoldering ember sets the whole forest ablaze. Someone carelessly tosses their cigarette butt into the grass and whoosh, it’s a wildfire.
Back in 2020, one couple in California just wanted to throw an awesome gender-reveal party with a colored smoke bomb. Instead, they ignited a fire that torched several acres of land and homes. It also seriously injured several people and resulted in the death of a firefighter. The point is: fire is not something to take lightly. It is beneficial and useful when it is safely under control. But an out-of-control fire is dangerous and deadly.
In today’s verses, James compared our tongues with fire. Just as a tiny spark is capable of destroying acres upon acres of land, one careless word spoken can have devastating consequences. Like sparks, our tongues are small but mighty.
James said that just one person’s mouth can speak words that spread like wildfire throughout the entire congregation, staining and blemishing it. And as you probably know from doing laundry, some stains are so stubborn that they just can’t be removed completely and the garment is ruined. Once we speak, no matter how hard we try, we can’t take a word back. We may be able to fade the stain of our words through apologies and repentance but a stain often remains. Once a word leaves our lips, the damage is done, capable of impacting every aspect of our lives and the lives of those around us.
James also used strong language to identify the source of damaging words—hell. Wicked speech is never from God. The enemy and his demons can use human tongues as tools to accomplish their evil schemes. As Christians then, we should want to have absolutely nothing to do with speech that dishonors the Lord and wounds His people.
But friends, there is good news, too! Positive, encouraging, life-giving words can spread just as fast. Our tongues don’t have to be a tool of the enemy but can instead be used by God for good! Today, let’s spread words that warm hearts instead of hurting them and build up God’s people instead of destroying them.
Father, I confess that there have been times that I have used my words carelessly, hurting others and staining the whole body of Christ. Help me to never underestimate the power of my words. Instead, use my tongue for Your good purposes and to spread Your Good Word! Amen.