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. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Comment: A dropped cigarette butt in the wrong place can burn down forests, houses, kill people, destroy businesses. Just by letting your imagine grasp James’ first sentence here that is how this passage starts. And James calls the cigarette our tongue and then he lists the destruction which it can cause.
- It can lead change to a whole life pattern and lead someone into hell.
- It is harder to bring under control than control to a lion, a hawk, a snake or a dolphin.
- It is hard to control (restless), full of deadly poison.
- Out of one side of the mouth it can bless God, whilst out of the other side curse our fellow man.
- it is the outlet of the produce of our inner being. A spring is pure or salty; a specific tree bears its own specific fruit. Our mouth shows what we really are inside.
Prayer: Thank you for prose and poetry, similes and parables. But let what ever form of speaking I do be of the ‘pure water’ type. O God.