Thursday in the Third Week of Ordinary Time

James 3:5-12

The Tongue: A Restless Evil

It would be hard to find in Scripture a diatribe against another member of the body as harsh as this one which James provides against the tongue.  And we know that his words are true; we know it from our own lives.  How many times have we slandered others?  And even if it weren’t slander, it need not have been said.  In the heat of passion, we have ripped others to shreds.  After all, they hurt us; it was our turn to share our feelings.  We wince now when we remember those words, and dearly wish we would never have said them.  But we can’t take them back; we can only ask forgiveness.

James’ first words about the tongue set the stage: “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”  Indeed, one little word can cause passions to rise unchecked.  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness!”  James shows us here how utterly wicked the tongue can be and in so many ways: boasts, curses, dirty jokes, lies, slanders, curse words, name-calling, threats, demeaning others, empty or just plain stupid remarks—there is literally no end to the evil the tongue can circulate in one hour!  And because of this, it stains not only the mouth but the whole body of the speaker and his whole course of life.  It is truly the most fearful member of our body.

James goes on comparing it to animals that man has tamed.  Yet, he tells us that “no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  And what is the most despicable trait of the tongue?  Its insincere, hypocritical, duplicitous, and deceitful ability to bless and curse all at the same time; specifically, to bless God and curse those made in His image.  James can only say, “My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

Proverbs says much about the tongue but Ecclesiastes hits the mark: “To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools…Let your words be few” (5:1-3).  I said it yesterday, we talk too much.  We think we have something to say when we are only displaying our desire for attention.  We desire to bless (and should bless), but we should not pour empty praise on poor behavior or offer tired clichés to people in pain.  The weather will neither hear nor care for our critique, nor will your listeners.  Ours is a day that fears silence; indeed, hates it.  Let us stop talking and start listening—not to the nearest blabber mouth but to the Lord our God and His word.  And let us learn to meditate—a lost art—and learn to guard this most violent member we have—for the gospel’s sake.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: