Daily Scripture Series – August 8th

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body.” (James 3:6)

It wasn’t as simple as just crossing another river. By law, no Roman general could lead armed troops into Rome. So when Julius Caesar led his Thirteenth Legion across the Rubicon River and into Italy in 49 BC, it was an act of treason. The impact of Caesar’s decision was irreversible, generating years of civil war before Rome’s great general became absolute ruler. Still today, the phrase “crossing the Rubicon” is a metaphor for “passing the point of no return.”

Sometimes we can cross a relational Rubicon with the words we say to others. Once spoken, words can’t be taken back. They can either offer help and comfort or do damage that feels just as irreversible as Caesar’s march on Rome. James gave us another word picture about words when he said, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)

When we fear we have crossed a Rubicon with someone, we can seek their forgiveness-and God’s. But even better is to daily rest in God’s Spirit, hearing Paul’s challenge, “Let your conversation be always full of grace”, so that our words will not only honor our Lord, but lift up and encourage those around us.”

Daily Questions

  1. When do you think you’ve crossed the Rubicon in your words?
  2. How can you avoid using words that “kill”?

Daily Thoughts

Lord, please guard our hearts and our words today and every day. May we speak only words that please you and bring health and healing to others.

James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horse to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Bonus Information

The very practical book of James contains much instruction about the wise use of our words.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”. “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless”, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.”

Why is James’s teaching to watch our words crucial for honoring God and people?

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