Set the world ablaze

Yesterday, we talked about making waves.

Today we’re going to talk about setting a blaze.

Read James 3:5-8, below:

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

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. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Notice the connecting piece between our segment yesterday and what we are studying today. One tiny verse –

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

Write that verse out somewhere if you can. What is the connection between the tongue and boasting? How does the tongue find trouble on it’s own sometimes without our help? Our friend, the tongue, needs to be steered or bridled.

James points out another reality – our tongues can also set the world ablaze. The Greek word for unrighteousness in our translation is adikias, from the root word adikia, meaning unrighteousness, but also injustice, and hurt. That hits the nail on the head. How is our tongue down right hurtful sometimes? Fires can be glorious and also destructive.

Let’s look at another passage that speaks similarly about waves and wind, selfish words, and growing out of them.

Ephesians 4:14-16:

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

We are not tossed by waves, but we are driven by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. In Christ, we are not left to idle in a sea of doubt and chaos. We have Hope. Let us start a fire, a fire for Christ, firm in the Holy Spirit and the Word that we are given!

God’s Word says that 2 things ignite – truth and love. So we can ask ourself this question before we open our mouth…

Am I speaking truth in love?

It sounds too simple. But God knows that it’s just so easy for us to speak one without the other.

Am I speaking truth with no love?
Am I speaking love with no truth?

Brothers and sisters, if we are aiming for setting the world on fire for Christ, we are intended to speak both as one.

I fail miserably at this. Dear children, pick up your toys! Dear husband, plan a date night! So many necessary commands, that definitely speak truth. I unfortunately forget to include the love. It’s easy when we are in a conversation with a friend about their struggle with sexual sin to speak only love and care – “It’s ok! It’s no big deal!” – without the truth that they so desperately need in order to see Christ’s forgiveness and love.

Where do you have the hardest time sharing truth with love and love with truth?

We’re in this together. Reread James 3:8 and hear the comfort there…

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 

Did you find it? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Dear friend, you are not the first, nor will you be the last, to struggle with tongue taming. It’s a daily work of sanctification. Christ’s mercy was given to us on the cross. It works in us every day, to set fires that point to His Life, rather than death and destruction. We will daily struggle with this, but it’s a good work, a good walk with our Savior who knows boundless grace.

Work that good Grace in us today, Lord. Truth in love and love in truth – we leave it at Your feet every day. Set some fires around us in Your name, for Your glory. Amen.

 

Discussion:

What areas of your life do you struggle with your tongue the most?

What examples can you point to of speaking the truth without love?

What examples can you point to of speaking love without the truth?

 

I hope you’ll join us for Good Gifts Live at its special time today, 2pm CST, on the I Love My Shepherd Facebook page. The topic for tonight is I Am Covered. Find out more tonight, and if you can’t be with us live, catch the archive tomorrow morning right here or on the I Love My Shepherd Youtube channel.

A New Year, New Words

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
                                                                    Proverbs 18:21

There have been years I’ve done the New Year’s Resolution thing, years I’ve made general goals, last year I claimed my word for the year. It’s all good stuff. I have little opinions on whether any one method is better than another. To each his own.
But I do like to embrace anything that will help me drown the Old Adam. The more creative the better, because that Old Adam, he just seems to have a really hard time going down.
We all have some perpetual sins. Sins that sit and stay awhile, and create crotchety old men inside of young women. The Old Adam has his knuckles clenched around these sins, holding strong, screaming, “But I don’t want to change! It’s so hard. So…much…work…I like my sin. It’s cozy to some extent. It’s familiar.”
I remember Sharla Fritz talking in her book Divine Designabout this concept, likening our Old Adam sins to cozy sweaters that are really quite itchy and uncomfortable when we stop and think about them.
Words are like this for me. Language. I use so much of it, and sometimes, in all honesty, it’s not pretty. It’s not cozy, it may be easy, but sometimes my words leave a wake of sorrow in their path. Accusations, frustration and anger, ill-conceived mediation in the wrong time and wrong place. Words. They can do so much good, but wow, can they burn.
This year, I want new words. While searching vaguely around the Internet last fall, I found an image that stated this simple concept…
Make Each Word a Gift
Words are powerful. The Bible tells us in Wisdom Literature that they have the power of life and death. They can build up or tear down. They can destroy or give grace upon grace.
Many of my words are good. They share God’s love and mercy with those around me. But enough of my words scream Old Adam enough to poke me in the conscience and make me want to turn around, to face the other direction, and by the power of the Spirit to walk the hard path of change.
I want to make each word a gift.
So, while I was getting ready for the live streaming event and podcasts through Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, I decided to make myself a visual. Then I decided that it was something meant to be shared. So, I made a bookmark…one side has gift wrap and the other side has duct tape (all be it pretty duct tape). Sometimes, my tongue needs a reminder to just keep it zipped, but more often, I just need to invite myself to  make each word a gift.


Below are the fun bookmarks, in case you feel the hankering for a visual also. I cut strips of wrapping paper and duct tape the same length (9.5” x 2”) and stuck them back to back. I attached a gift tag to the top in order to make it more visual. Blessings on this New Year with new words!


(I found the concept of Make Each Word a Gift from Pocketfuel @ http://www.pktfuel.com/each-word-wallpaper-download/. I follow them on twitter because I love their images and phrasing of the Biblical message of Hope. Thanks, Pocketfuel!)