The Devil’s Organ
James 3:5-6 says “5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6And 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.”
Yesterday we saw from verses 3-4 how a small thing such as a bit for a horse or a rudder for a ship can control and influence something much larger and more powerful that itself. Today’s lesson picks up from where we left off.
Verse 5 says “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” the first phrase ‘even so’ simply shows us that it is a continuation from the examples given in verses 3-4, it’s just saying that it’s the same general idea. The verse continues “the tongue is a little member”. It is an undisputable fact that the tongue is small. The word ‘member’ here means limb or organ (the tongue is an organ). Compared to our other organs the tongue is pretty small, but boy does it cause a lot of trouble! The verse continues “and boasteth great things”. The tongue is a small organ in our body but it boasts great things! When I read this verse I think of those little dogs. They are so small and seem so harmless until you get closer and they start yapping and growling! They are little things, but boy do they boast great things; I’ve come across Rottweiler’s who are more timid than some of these toy dogs!
So the first thing we have seen is that the tongue is a small thing that boasts great things. Many confrontations have started because of something someone has said; sometimes even by the way they said it! It is a great truth though that the tongue does boast great power. Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” the tongue holds the power to utterly destroy or preserve life. When I see this I think of the old-time Kings and queens. When a criminal was brought before them they could either sentence them to death or set them free. They had complete control over the convict’s future. The tongue holds this great power. The wrong words, in the wrong place, at the wrong time could end with someone dying. An old war poster read ‘LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS’. Even things said in the privacy of a home has the potential to get out and cause 100s of problems. The tongue is a super power.
Verse 5 continues “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” another great truth is presented here. Look at how much can be destroyed by a little fire. I have witnessed countless stories on the news about raging forest fires kindled by someone throwing a cigarette butt away or the sun shining through a discarded glass bottle. Great things can be burnt by a small fire. Take for example the fire of London in 1666. Embers from a baker’s oven caused a fire that lasted for 4 days, destroying over 13,000 houses, 89 churches and 52 guild halls; destroying in total 80% of London and leaving 100,000 people (a sixth of London’s population) homeless. Just a few embers destroyed most of a city; ‘how great a matter a little fire kindleth!’ our words can have this effect. We may say something that will come back to hit us in a big way if we are not careful. We can cause big problems from little words.
Verse 6 goes on to explain more. The verse says “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.” The first thing that sticks out to me is the first phrase ‘And the tongue is a fire’. Notice it does not say it is like a fire, it says it is a fire. Fire has its disadvantages and advantages. On the bad side it can cause death and destruction but on the good side it can help with cooking and be used to power machines. The fire does not change, only how it is used does. Our tongues are the same. Our tongues are fire, this is not a bad thing, it’s how we use that fire. We can use it to destroy people or empower them. However we see from the next phrase the truest nature of the tongue.
The verse continues “a world of iniquity”. The tongue is filled with different sins. Lying, blasphemy, cursing, covetousness, slander, railing and so on. The tongue doesn’t just hold one sin; it is a world of them. The world is big; the tongue is small, but we see that the tongue holds a world of iniquity. In other words it is filled with a great quantity of all manner of wickedness.
The third noticeable phrase is the next bit of the verse “so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body”. The tongue is an iniquity filled organ among our other organs and limbs; so much so that it defiles the whole body. Take, for example, a man who says something wrong and it gets him into a fight, it is not his tongue that gets beaten up, it’s the rest of his limbs and organs! The tongue brings trouble on the whole body. Not only this, but more often than not people judge other people by what they say. Therefore if a person’s speech is wrong it brings a bad name, a defiled name, on the whole body. The tongue also has the power to lead the whole body into sin. When you say you are going to do something more often than not you will end up doing it. We saw yesterday that what we say comes from the heart, and if you have purposed to do something in your heart it will come out in what you say. This will lead to sin.
The tongue is also very influential. Say you get up one Sunday morning. You look outside and its pouring down and you don’t feel well and you sit there and say to yourself ‘I can give church a miss this morning, that weather is terrible and I really don’t feel well, I’ll just go back to bed’. What has just happened? Your tongue has influenced you into not going to church!
The next phrase in the verse says “and setteth on fire the course of nature”. The ‘course of nature’ literally means here the wheel of nature. Think of your life as a circle. Now say you set a small part of this wheel on fire by something you say. Sooner or later the fire is going to travel all around the wheel and destroy it until there is nothing left. Your entire life can be injured or even destroyed by the tongue. Time does not fix something that is burnt, nor does time correct the sins of the tongues. The sins may be forgiven, but the fire will keep spreading. It is amazing how something someone said when they were younger can change their future. They kindled a small fire and it spread throughout their whole life.
The last statement is a profound one. Some of you may be thinking ‘well where does this fire originate?’ and here we are given the answer. The verse ends “and it is set on fire of hell.” The multitude of sins from the tongue are inspired by hell itself. A bad tongue is the devils organ. With it he purposed to overthrow God, with it he convinced a third of the angels to go with him out of heaven and with it he lies to us on a daily basis. It is no wonder though, if the tongue can lead the rest of the body into sin, if the tongue can break relationships and cause strife then of course he is going to use it! there is an alternative to the fiery tongue of hell though. As we see in the bible at Pentecost God sent tongues of fire. We have the choice to have a tongue set on fire by God. With it we can share the gospel, praise His name and glorify Him. it is all a heart matter though. If the heart is on fire for the things of this world then the tongue will reflect this and it will burn with the fire of hell, but if the heart is on fire for the things of God then this will be reflected and it will burn with a heavenly fire!
Let me ask you today, what is your little tongue boasting? Is it telling of your almighty God or is it telling of worldly things? I pray that today you will realise that little words can cause a big problem. Don’t let your tongue defile your whole body. Claim the heavenly fire for your heart and tongue. Use it for God’s glory! James has told us we are to be swift to hear and slow to speak. I pray that as you go about your daily life you will be careful not to kindle any fires. As Thumper said “if you can’t say something nice…don’t say nothing at all”. I pray that you will think about your words before they leave your lips, it will save you a lot of trouble in the long run! – Andrew.
Posted on September 26, 2012, in Andrew's Thoughts for the Day and tagged Bible, Christian, God, HolySpirit, James, Jesus, London, Organ, Pentecost, Religion and Spirituality, Tongue. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.