Journal James 3 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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 itself.
For every kind of (animal) 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.
With it we bless our Lord and Father;
And with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers: these things ought not to be so… (James 3:6b-10a punctuation changed for reading effect)
Observation: From the Scriptures, out of every weapon that Man could devise, nothing has more potential to be deadly than the tongue.
Analysis: “Shall we play a game?” “Yes, let’s play Thermonuclear War.” From the movie War Games.
And yet, as a Boomer and very aware of Nukes and weapons of mass destruction, God tells me that nothing is more deadly than the tongue.
My bet is that Nukes are for an instant, destruction by the tongue is for the duration of a lifetime and beyond.
That’s got a ring of truth to it.
My worse memories are of words; mostly things said to me that wounded me in such a way that the scars are tender even to this day.
But also, things that I have said to others that the descriptions shame and regret are too light and inadequate for what I feel inside. I also carry those scars.
They are like deep cuts, wounds that don’t quite heal. Ever.
I think that James might know these sensations all too well. “A restless evil…a fire” that affects all a lifetime, started and sustained by hell. Is it possible that he is thinking how he treated his brother before the Cross? John 7:5 says “Not even his brothers (and in some manuscripts, sisters) believed in Him.” What did he say about his stepbrother Jesus as a teenager or young adult that he would like to take back?
I believe that James knew there was forgiveness in the Son, but it is evident that is not the purpose of this Letter. James writes, maybe in a mocking tone, “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (Ja 2:20) It appears that James’ purpose was to kick some backside into gear, put some teeth in my faith, and not just slothfully “rest” in my faith.
A good place to start is with my tongue.
Prayer: Lord God, how marvelously thorough you are in addressing how to be conformed to the image of the Son. You do not allow me to rest in theological principles but entice me, direct me, into putting theology and Biblical study to actual work—and that not to earn forgiveness or salvation but to be a witness of the Gospel from the core of my heart outward.
Thank you for regenerating me from within and releasing me from the bonds of sin. AMEN