"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
When the enemy heats up, don't add fuel to the fire.
A few weeks ago, I experienced a very real and vivid spiritual attack from the enemy in the middle of the night. Now, let’s face it. None of us is exempt from these attacks.
As for me, this one was nothing new. I had experienced one like this before. Awakened in the middle of the night, I felt an aboding presence in the room and pressure on my throat. In his sneering, intimidating way I heard him say, “you think I am backing down? I’m only heating up!”
Instantly, like a principle stepping onto the playground as the class bully threatens to beat up a child half his size, the Lord stepped into the room. Like the bully, the enemy knew he was outsized and overpowered and went off sulking with his head down.
I knew God was for me. I was not in this battle alone. I would not, could not, be afraid.
It doesn’t surprise me the enemy’s hands were around my throat. I have a tendency to like words, a lot. I like speaking a lot also.
And while the Lord has blessed me with the faith to speak, I don't always speak words of faith. I shock myself at how quickly my tongue can turn on me.
Tongues of Fire
One moment I’m praising God and the next I am snapping at my husband over something stupid. One minute I am praying and believing for miracles and, without pausing for a breath, I am crying that things will never get better in my addicted son’s life. He will never really be free.
I go from praise to panic instantly. And my tongue follows willingly.
That's where our enemy wants us. Paralyzed and panicked with his hands wrapped around our throat. Our faithless words spoken only fuel his fire.
We fuel the fire when we complain because our circumstances don’t improve as quickly as we would like or our prodigals choose to hang out in the pigpen rather than repent and return home.
We pour kerosene on a wildfire when we accuse God of not hearing our prayers as we desperately cry out for our loved ones who are swallowed up in their rebellion, addictions and self-destructive behaviors.
We fan the flame when we listen to bad reports, carelessly repeating them instead of clinging to the word of truth and believing that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God.
We burn and scorch each other when our words retaliate and fuel arguments instead of offering comfort, hope, and healing.
Thankfully, the Spirit of God woos us away from wasted words.
He can capture them before they leave our mouths and gently convict us to think before we speak. He teaches us to listen to his still small voice, and from the mouths of his children he has ordained praise. We can trust him to put a guard over our lips, and by doing so he throws water on the enemy’s flames.
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV
The word of God is is like refreshing water, quenching our tongues of fire. With it as our guide, our words can be spoken with love and intention. As we listen to the Spirit of God, he will ignite God’s word in our heart and extinguish our tongues of flames.