Thursday, June 2, 2011

James 3: it only takes a spark...

click to enlarge
 I kind of struggled this week to figure out how to visually represent this chapter. In the end I had to go with something simpler than what I imagined. But I was struck by James' use of many different metaphors to express the way that a person's speech (tongue) can have a huge impact on the person as a whole. There were all these small-ish things that had a large impact. A horse can be turned one way or another by the bit in its mouth. A ship is steered by a small rudder. A forest fire is created from just one spark. 

5 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. 6 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 isn't just talking about an individual person's speech affecting that same individual person. He actually begins the chapter by warning people that 'not many of us should become teachers'. Why? It's because he realizes the impact an influencing agent can have on the larger community. The tongue has great potential for bad but also for good. It's a warning but also a challenge. Those of us who are in leadership positions, especially those of us who speak often (verbally or otherwise), have great potential for good and bad influence. What are we going to do with the power and potential given to us?

1 comment:

  1. My church went through the book of James a few earlier this year and I remember this part. I like the visual representation, Laura!