August 14, 2021

Are We Sending the Whole World Up In Smoke? - The Book of James Bible Series


Hello, Sweet Readers!  Here I am, 'late' again!  I mean - sure... it is somewhat of a self-imposed deadline, but it's one that I mapped out after praying about this series so I still feel tied to it... but life, man?! Am I right?

At any rate, here we are - together... ready to dig into more of Chapter 3! 

Let's go! Here is our portion of Scripture for today: James Chapter 3, verses 6-12! 

Let's read it together here, starting with The Passion Translation Bible:

"And the tongue is a fire! It can be compared to the sum total of wickedness and is the most dangerous part of our human body. It corrupts the entire body and is a hellish flame! It releases a fire that can burn throughout the course of human existence.

For every wild animal on earth including birds, creeping reptiles, and creatures of the sea and land have all been overpowered and tamed by humans, but the tongue is not able to be tamed. It’s a fickle, unrestrained evil that spews out words full of toxic poison! We use our tongue to praise God our Father and then turn around and curse a person who was made in his very image! Out of the same mouth we pour out words of praise one minute and curses the next. My brothers and sisters, this should never be!

Would you look for olives hanging on a fig tree or go to pick figs from a grapevine? Is it possible that fresh and bitter water can flow out of the same spring? So neither can a bitter spring produce fresh water." (The Passion Translation)

We know when we start with an 'And', we need to recap a bit, right? 

Last time we talked about the power of the tongue (aka our words!) and we left off with verse 5 that says, " the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power! Just think of how a small flame can set a huge forest ablaze." So we are continuing with the theme of thepower of the tongue. Or to be more to the point - the destructive power of the tongue!

I mean, comparing it to 'the sum total of wickedness' - or, in the Greek, 'a world of wrongdoing.' -- well, that seems pretty bad! Verse 6 can be translated in Aramaic as 'a fire that passes through successive generations, rolling on like wheels.'  Wow... I know when I read that, I can picture a few families who have battled some powerful generational fires or curses... to think our tongues hold that kind of power... we should really (Read: REALLY REALLY REALLY!) be paying attention to what we say!

James points out that we pay little attention to the tongue - spewing off toxic words in one moment, and praising God in the next. If we paid better attention, I think we would be better at holding our tongues and taking every thought captive! Then, our writer points us back again to FRUIT that should come as we live out this Christian life and how we should not live double-minded or split-tongued! (Ya see what I did there?)


Let's read it in The Voice:

"The tongue is a blazing fire seeking to ignite an entire world of vices. The tongue is unique among all parts of the body because it is capable of corrupting the whole body. If that were not enough, it ignites and consumes the course of creation with a fuel that originates in hell itself. Humanity is capable of taming every bird and beast in existence, even reptiles and sea creatures great and small. But no man has ever demonstrated the ability to tame his own tongue! It is a spring of restless evil, brimming with toxic poisons. Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image. One mouth streams forth both blessings and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be. Does a spring gush crystal clear freshwater and moments later spurt out bitter salt water? My brothers and sisters, does a fig tree produce olives? Is there a grapevine capable of growing figs? Can salt water give way to freshwater?" (The Voice)

I love this translation because it just makes things so clear!


Let's read it in The Amplified Bible:

"And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna). For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and sea creatures, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts]. Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh." (The Amplified Bible)

Listen... this right here should give each and every one of us pause:
"with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts]."
We forget, don't we?  We fall for the whispering/shouting lies of the enemy who tricks us into forgetting that our enemy is HIM... not flesh and blood... not men made in the likeness or image of God!  We get all caught up in our cause and we forget that we have a moral obligation to speak in a way that honors and reflects God... we are to lift and build each other up - not tear each other down.  Correct and hold accountable? Yes - of course! But with and in love and grace!  We can't pratically do this if we are drawing lines in the sand and separating into 'us' and 'them'! We forget that we are ALL US... we are all His kids... the THEM is the enemy and his hordes of wickedness... Let's try to remember this the next time we see a Meme that offends us or a post on social media that we think/know is wrong! Rather than retalitating or harshly trying to correct, how about we PRAY FOR 'THEM' and ask God to do the redirecting and coarse-correcting!

Let's read it in The New Living Translation:

"And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself..." (NLT)

I am not sure why this is, but I have always been one who chooses my words carefully and calmly. I was never interested in saying something I didn't really mean - so yelling it out in the heat of the moment never sat well. I'm sure it happened a time or two, but overall - I like to process internally first and then when I am ready to say a thing --you can take it to the bank that this is what I mean and believe! 
I have known many however who don't really know how to edit their words or even keep track of them and I can tell you - I have seen how this has set their whole world on fire a time or twelve, for sure!


Now comes one of my favorite translations: The Message Bible:

"A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?" (The Message Bible)

Oh man! You can see why this translation is one of my favorites! 

I mean, "
By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it..." 

I know we live in a protest-y world right now... people are shouting loud and making sure their voices are heard... this, of course, is not bad in itself! In fact, the fact that we have this choice to begin with is why we love America so much!  But if we are letting our speech ruin the world, turn harmony into chaos, muddy 'their' reputations (with or without actual facts being checked!), --well, is it really any wonder that it seems the whole world is going up in smoke? I mean - James is OH SO CLEAR about it all! We REALLY need to pay attention to our tongue and hold it more often than letting it just run wild! We need to re-learn that art of listening - for the sake of understanding or at least entertaining the mere idea that 'we' may be wrong and 'they' - as crazy as 'they' are... well - they may have some valid points that we cannot hear about the roar of the flames overtaking everything in sight!

I agree with James, brothers and sisters! This simply can't go on!


Let's pray: 

Father God, 

We come before you today, humbled and undone.  We know.  Even more, we know that YOU know! We have blown it so many times... let our thoughts go unchecked and before we realize what is happening, our tongues are running wild, starting and spreading wildfires everywhere we speak! 

Help us, Holy Spirit, to mount guard over our tongues.  To pay attention to the words we say and how they come across to others... how they affect others. Help us to remember the power we weild when we open our mouths to speak! Enable us to take a stand and to stand for Truth and Justice - yes, of course! But to do it in a way that doesn't lose sight of who our real enemy is! Help us to remember that the enemy of our souls does not walk around in flesh and blood and he is never happier than we are at each others' throats screaming words and declarations that are used as weapons of mass destruction!

Jesus, we invite you to interrupt us when we are about to let loose, when we should be taking hold!  Remind us that our tongues hold the power of life and death! Help us to always choose life! 

We know, Lord, that taming our tongue is not an easy task and we cannot do it on our own! We need You... we need Your guidance and correction. We need your Grace and Mercy, too!  Help us --even when we think we are being helpful... but in reality we are wounding with our words. 

Fahter God, we do not want to bless you and turn around and curse the very people you have fashioned in your image --even if or when they look or live or believe differently than we do!  Help us to remember to yield to You and to You alone!
Remind us that our words should reflect what You would say and how You would love... help us to purpose to use our words to refresh and encourage, rather than to blame and tear down!  Help our Words bear good fruit because we are choosing them carefully and in kindness... and when (not if!) we forget and begin to get lazy in our speech and holding every thought and word captive, we give You full permission to interrupt us and redirect our words to be words of blessing and not cursing!

We love You, Lord! We're so grateful for how You speak to us... help us to speak to others with just as much love and compassion! Give us a passion to fill our minds and hearts with Your Words, Jesus... so what spills out of us are words that give life and hope and joy!

For the King and His Kingdom, 

In Jesus' Name!

I hope you come back in about two weeks as we wrap up Chapter 3 in the book of James!

And as
 always, if you missed  a post or just stumbled upon us, you can go HERE and scroll to the bottom to find each installment of this series as it is published!

Until next time Friends, let's purpose to:

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