BIBLE READING: JAMES 3
5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth. 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Our tongue is compared to a little fire placed among a great deal of combustible matter, which soon raises a flame and consumes all before it: Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! In fact, there is such an abundance of sin in the tongue that it may be called a “world of iniquity”.
How many fires does it cause? How many dreadful flames does it kindle? How many human structures has it burned down? It is the tongue “among our members” that “ defileth the whole body”. And the whole body is often drawn into sin and guilt by the tongue. Solomon says, “Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin”, Ecclesiastes 5:6.
The snares into which men are sometimes led by the tongue are damaging to themselves and destructive to others. It “setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell”. Hell has more to do in promoting of fire of the tongue than we are generally aware of. So, James goes a step further in verse seven and eight:
* 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
This is what Matthew Henry wrote:
“Lions, and the most savage beasts, as well as horses and camels, and creatures of the greatest strength, have been tamed and governed by men: so have birds, notwithstanding their wildness and timorousness, and their wings to bear them up continually out of our reach: even serpents, notwithstanding all their venom and all their cunning, have been made familiar and harmless: and things in the sea have been taken by men, and made serviceable to them. And these creatures have not been subdued nor tamed by miracle only, but what is here spoken of is something commonly done; not only hath been tamed, but is tamed of mankind. Yet the tongue is worse than these, and cannot be tamed by the power and art which serves to tame these things. No man can tame the tongue without supernatural grace and assistance.”