What is the Source of my Words?

Text: James 3:5-6
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 
(NRSV)

I was going to say, “I can only imagine what was happening in James’ church to cause him to write these words”, but since we have seen our most recent national upheavals play out on social media, we probably don’t have to guess at what was going on that would cause James to have to write something like this to the Church.  It looks like James had his share of members posting on Facebook and Twitter.  

We have seen friends break decades-long relationships.  We have seen families torn apart.  We have seen words spoken that have turned people to physical violence.  We have seen lives lost.  And this is not simply because people disagree with one another, it is because people have chosen to disagree with one another by spouting words of pure hate.

It is easy for me to understand why James writes, “The tongue [and in our day the keyboard] is a fire.  …and is itself set on fire by hell.”  Speaking truth in love is of God, but the hate we have heard and seen being spewed out as a weapon—a flame thrower—is manufactured by Satan in hell.  

This, no doubt was what James was dealing with as well.  I know the hurt he must have felt, the crushing blow to his spirit when he heard such things coming from those who claimed to be disciples of Jesus Christ, those to whom he had personally spoken the words of God’s grace and forgiveness, those to whom he had taught the greatest commandments of love for God and neighbor.

From where do your words of disagreement come?  Are they inspired by the love of God and the words of Paul as he implores the Church to bear with one another in love?  Do we hear the words of scripture that tell us to make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?  Do we speak our disagreements with truth in love (see Ephesians 4)?  Or are our passions set on fire by hell?

Pray with me:

God of truth and God of love, forgive me when my passion for my beliefs turn from honest sharing incubated in the love of your Son into flames of hatred kindled in the depths of hell designed to destroy your Church if that were possible.  AMEN.

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