A tiny spark can cause a wildfire
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 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. James 3:5b-6 NLT
Here in California, we are familiar with wildfires caused by tiny sparks. There are accidental causes of wildfires such as car burning near brushes, tire blown, equipment malfunction such as lawnmowers and there are a lot more. But there are other causes that could have been prevented such as a cigarette thrown carelessly or unattended campfire. The cost of putting out the wildfire and the destruction of properties are enormous. In addition to the lost are the untold suffering and death inflicted by the wildlife on the stricken areas. James’ use of the tiny spark as an illustration is done to help us understand what our hurtful words could do; like a tiny spark could cause a detrimental harm. A tongue that is out of control could destroy everything that is in its path. “A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire” (Proverbs 16:27 ESV). Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it is identified with and in a sense, can become a vehicle of evil that resides among the members of man’s body. It tells lies, slanders someone’s name, kindles hate, creates discord, incites lust, and, in brief, gives rise to numerous sins. As James said from the text, “corrupting your entire body.” A tongue that spews evil words can tarnish our personality and refutation. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you” (Matthew 7:20-23). It is only by submitting ourselves to God that we can have control over the use of our tongue. God, through the Holy Spirit is the one that will supply us the strength and wisdom so we can have control over our tongues. “The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense” (Proverbs 10:20-21).