Deadly Poison

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue-a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. (James 3)

As a pastor there are several passages of scripture that I am reminded of from time to time or that I turn to in time of need.  Unfortunately, this is one of those passages.  I realize that  Christians are sinners like everyone else in the world, and I realize that the Church can act like so many of the other organizations in the world as well, but there should be a limit to how true this is in practice.

I have served as a conflict intervention consultant to seven churches and have also been appointed to serve in two churches that were at the highest level of conflict prior to my arrival. the words that James writes above are dead center on the mark when it comes to churches in conflict, and unfortunately they are also applicable to some churches that are not in open conflict.

When will we learn as Christians to place our tongues along with the rest of who we are under the lordship of Christ? in the past few weeks i have seen the deadly effects of loose tongues more interested in complaining, hurting and destroying than they are in praising, healing and building up.

Nothing will destroy a church more quickly than the fire known as the tongue.

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3 thoughts on “Deadly Poison

  1. This is an important message that I think about often. Not only are negative words powerful, they can also be contageous (if you let them). On the other hand, love can be contageous too:)

    Two stories come to my mind, after reading what you wrote.

    Story 1

    There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

    The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence….

    Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

    The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

    Story 2

    One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

    As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms, and tripped him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him, and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey, thanks!” There was big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.

    As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends. He said yes.

    We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him. Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles carrying this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.

    Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn

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