James 3:5 | How we Burn up our Life
They are just words I did not mean anything by it. Words are just that words. No actions have taken place and talk is just talk. The Bible however disagrees and claims that your entire life can be set on fire just by words spoken from your mouth. Words will burn or build life.
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 whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6 NIV
Watch your Mouth
What comes out of your mouth is what is in your heart and makes you who you are at your very core. Your words betray and burn your life or words encourage and build your life long before actions can take place. Paul in his letter to the Romans describes what it looks like to be fully consumed by a life set on fire that starts simply by words spoken.
They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:30-32 ESV
God Sees the Heart
Lies, gossip, encouragement to do evil things, and boasting all start as just words. God does not judge solely on our actions. For example I have have not killed anyone so I can claim that I have kept the 6th commandment to not murder. But that is not exactly true because God’s standard is more than just actions look at what Jesus has to say.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:21-22 ESV
Have you ever said that you hated someone? Have you ever spewed out curses in anger wishing that they would just die and go away? God’s standard looks at your heart and out of your heart words flow. That is where God judges.
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:18-19 ESV
Life to Burn or Build
I can learn much about a person by listening to what they say. Will the words burn everyone around them or will the words build life for others? I can tell if they are a complainer, a boaster, or a liar. I can tell if they have wisdom, graciousness, and encouragement. Our words can build up or tear down. God will call us to account for them all. We have all spoken words that we regret. The point is not to take a vow of silence, but to be aware and search out the content of your conversations. Ask God to show you how your words are hurting your relationships, your job, and how you live. Repent and ask Jesus to make you new. Submit to His authority and make him the King of your life. When you speak you speak not as yourself, but as a representative of the King.
If you liked this post leave a comment or ask a question! Also if you are interested in the Book of James (written by the half brother of Jesus) then check out this post on James Chapter 1 You don’t have because you did not ask.
Revised and edited. Originally published 2014.
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