May 29, 2023

Taming the Tongue

James 3:1-12, 17-18

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire. . . .

—  James 3:5-6

Over the years our family has had many brushes with forest fires. At one point a forest fire came to within a kilometer of our house before being brought under control. We have had vacation plans altered because of wildfires, and on other occasions we seldom left our home because of the poor air quality. Each of these fires began with a spark and a tiny flame before becoming a raging inferno.

James writes that poorly chosen words are like sparks that cause a great fire. Both bring immeasurable damage. A little gossip runs its course, and who knows how much damage it causes! A careless word is spoken, and a person is left wounded and scarred for a lifetime. Sadly, I may be the one who uttered those words.

The good news is that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Though “no human being can tame the tongue,” the Spirit of God can. When we walk in step with the Spirit, we will notice that the Spirit helps us to control our tongues. And, says James, “with the wisdom that comes from heaven,” self-control in other areas of life follows. Godly wisdom brings peace, love, humility, mercy, and good fruit for life the way God intends it to be.

Heavenly Father, help us to control our tongues. May our words bring honor and glory to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

About the author — George Koopmans

George Koopmans has served as an ecumenical chaplain at Medicine Hat College in Medicine Hat, Alberta, since November 2021. Prior to entering into chaplaincy, George served as a pastor to two congregations—one in Minnesota (Luverne), and the other in Medicine Hat. George and his wife, Emily, have four adult daughters and three grandchildren. Hiking, biking, and birdwatching are his favorite hobbies.

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