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Focal Passage- James 3:1-12

James 3:5b-6 “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.”

It may seem as if James is being a bit dramatic here with this analogy, but in truth he is not.  We can calm the raging storms of misery in someone’s life with soothing words and we can cause that same misery with divisive ones.  The word James uses in verse 6 for “hell” was the Greek word “gehenna,” which is actually the transliteration of two Hebrew words meaning “Valley of Hinnom.”  This was a valley outside of the walls of Jerusalem where ancient worshippers of Molech sacrificed their children and where the Jews now burned refuse and trash.  It continually burned there and became an analogy used by Jesus and others to give some comparison to the hell of Satan.  The apostle’s meaning is clear:  our tongues must be controlled, because out of control, they do the work of the enemy and burn with the ravaging heat of Satan’s hell in both our lives and in the lives of those we meet.

Study/Meditation:  Isaiah knew the torrent of the tongue in the face of the Almighty.  Read Isaiah 6:6-7.  Why did the angel put burning coals on Isaiah’s lips in response to the prophet’s fear?

*Father, forgive me for the unkind and rash words I speak.  Help me to be sanctified in my speech and to let only words that are uplifting flow from my mouth.  Amen.