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Are we speaking flames of death or life?

tongue flames of fire damage

I was abused by my schizo affective father. I was branded my many people as being lazy, stupid and a waste of flesh. I felt the sting of disparaging comments.

Some of those cutting and cruel words of judgement sadly came from the lips of a fellow Christian brother, who God has called me to forgive. He would tell my dearest of friends, “Kevin’s lazy. You have to stop helping him.”

As I have prayed about what the Holy Spirit is calling me to share, the Lord has me think of all those who are falsely judged.

We are told in the book of James that our words can speak life or death. In a sermon I preached as a missionary in South Korea I entitled my message Flames or Flowers. God gives us the choice of speaking words of kindness or destruction.

James 3:6 says, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b]” English Standard Version.

Hell in the New Testament is referred to in the Greek as gehenna, which is a reference to the place of eternal damnation for the wicked. Quoting from Theopedia : An encyclopedia of Biblical Christianity:

“Whatever its historical and geographic meaning, its usage in the New Testament is clearly a reference to the everlasting state of the wicked, and this seems to be the thought in every instance. In James 3:6 the damage accomplished by an uncontrolled tongue is compared to a fire which ‘corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.’ “Christ warned that a person who declares others a fool ‘will be in danger of the fire of hell’ (Matt. 5:22). In Matthew 5:29 Christ states that it is better to lose an eye than to be thrown into gehenna, with a similar thought regarding it being better to lose a hand than to go into gehenna (Matt. 5:30). In Matthew 10:28 believers in Christ are told not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but rather to ‘fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell’ (KJV).”

We need to constantly come to God and ask this question. In my interactions with others am I speaking life or death? We all fall short in this area. In my own marriage there are times I really blow it with Karen. I say something without thinking. always regretting it later.Thank God we are sinners saved by grace! All of us would love to have a rewind and erase button for the things we would take back in a heartbeat if we could.

A caring pastor got into trouble with his superior because he didn’t think and pray before speaking his mind. He gave me wise advice. Observe the count to ten rule. If there is still anger in your heart about saying something, take time before you respond. Bring the issue into your prayer closet. Ask for God’s wisdom how to respond.Any time I have gone my own stubborn way and not listened to this pastor’s counsel the result is never positive. I am a sinner being perfected in love.

Today, as we take time to come to God, let us all ask ourselves where we are wanting.  Have we said something we would dearly pray we hadn’t said? If that is the case, let us first go to God and ask for His forgiveness. Then, let us all be made willing to forgive, so that we will speak words of life into people’s lives.