Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.James 3:5-8
These strong, uncompromising words from the pen of the Apostle James are very confronting. Is MY tongue really ‘untameable’ and ‘a restless evil, full of deadly poison’? Most of the time I manage reasonably well to keep it under control. I am a fairly placid person who is not generally given to fits of rage or outbursts of anger …
But the fact that the Holy Spirit sees fit to include this description of the tongue in his inspired Word requires me to reflect carefully about this seemingly insignificant part of my body (cf 1:21-26). And, while I’m doing this, I realise that when James is talking about my ‘tongue’, it is code for ‘communication’ in general. So, in 21st Century terms, I should read ‘tongue’ as ‘finger that hits the keys on my phone/laptop for messaging’, using social media platforms, etc!
So, what about passing on juicy gossip as a ‘prayer request’? What about posting ‘oneupmanship’ type information that will cause others to envy me or just be impressed by my achievements/successes? What about highlighting faults in others so as to make me ‘look’ better, or just compensate for my insecurities? What about writing things like this in TQW?
Yes, James calls the tongue ‘a fire’, and I wonder if the modern equivalent might be ‘a minefield’? The more I think about it, the more James’ warning leads me to pray more earnestly the prayer that King David prayed: “Set a guard over my mouth [and fingers], O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips [and social media platforms]. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.” (Psalm 141:3-4).