Is Your Tongue On Fire? by Pastor James Collins

Is Your Tongue On Fire?

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” James 3:6

One of the difficult things about being a pastor is not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings when it comes to food. At church fellowship meals, I usually take a little bit of everything even if I don’t particularly like it. I am afraid that Miss Edna will watch the buffet line and notice that I didn’t eat any of her butterbeans. Then she will get upset and tell her husband, Deacon Hugo, and I will end up getting fired from the church.

In the past two weeks, I have attended four different church-related Christmas parties. At each of the parties, someone has made spicy dip. Several years ago, I had to have my gallbladder removed. Ever since then, I really can’t eat spicy food. I like food with a little kick, but it doesn’t like me. However, because I didn’t want to offend anyone, I tried the dips.

At the first party, a lady said, “Try this dip. It has an amusing kick.” I scooped up a little with a chip and put it in my mouth. That dip was so flaming hot, you could remove dried paint with it. I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. The lady was offended when I told her that my ears were ringing, and I could no longer focus my eyes.

At the second party, the host said, “This dip has a slight flavor of jalapeno.” I tried his dip on a cracker. I didn’t taste anything but pain. The dip was blazingly hot. My wife, Amanda, had to give me the Heimlich maneuver. I think I embarrassed Amanda with all the screaming and crying.

At the third party, someone said, “Preacher, try this dip. It has a hint of red peppers.” I put a little of the dip on a potato chip and took a bite. It was so red-hot, it tasted more like Drano than red peppers. I couldn’t think. My brain turned to liquid and ran out of my nose.

At the fourth party, just as I walked in the door, someone suggested, “Taste this dip. It has just a touch of cayenne and my secret ingredient, ghost peppers.” Not learning my lesson, I dipped in a chip and tried it. I felt something scraping across my tongue but was unable to taste it. My lips began to melt. I told Amanda to collect some of the dip in a container and give it to the coroner, so he would know what killed me at the autopsy.

Even worse than inferno dips setting your tongue on fire is having a fiery tongue aimed at you. The Bible says the tongue is “a fire” (James 3:6). That does not mean we have a literal flame in our mouth. It is a word picture to show how a spark started by someone’s tongue can become a raging fire. A false statement made here, a little gossip over there, a vicious remark somewhere else, and people are hurt, relationships are destroyed, and lives are ruined.

However, our words can put out fires instead of starting them. Use your words to encourage someone who is hurting. Speak positively to someone wanting to grow in their faith. Better still, tell someone who is lost about our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The point is: We would all be wise to pray, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Help me Lord to keep my mouth from scorching others.

Is your tongue on fire?

James Collins is pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. He would love to come to your Christmas party, but he won’t eat anymore spicy dip. For more information about his ministry, visit the website

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