Little Church Members

Ingimar DeRidder

A Lesson from James to the Churches

Watch out when tongues get loose. They can do a lot of damage. Nothing
saddens the heart more than to hear of local churches divided, broken and destroyed by the
Devil. It is especially sad when good churches are needed to be winning souls for Christ.
The Devil has many devices which he uses to split a church and to divide one brother from
another. Let there be no mistake about it, the Devil hates the church. Today, a church is
more likely to be destroyed from within than from without.

Within the church there is one member everyone had better watch out
for. If allowed to, this member can cause much havoc and chaos. This little member is the
tongue. Satan often uses this uncontrolled member to destroy the unity and harmony of a
local assembly. God warns us about this potential danger. He warns us about the problem of
tongues.

The tongues problem in question is not the one in Acts chapter two,
that is a “tongue of fire.” I am speaking rather of the tongues in James chapter
three, which is a “tongue on fire.”

Tongues, I believe, is the besetting sin of many believers (including
myself). Dear Lord Jesus, teach us the awfulness of this evil phenomenon called
“tongues.” Amen.

I. THE RAGE OF THE TONGUE

James 3:6 tells us that the tongue is a fire, and what a fire it is!
Now, fire is a very useful thing when controlled and in its proper place. It is a real
blessing when it is controlled on the stove, but what a terror when it is on the bed or
the sofa. Every precaution must be taken to keep fire in its proper place. While we enjoy
the flames dancing upon the log in the fireplace we must never let down our guard or
become careless, lest a beautiful experience becomes a tragedy. Whole forests have gone up
in smoke because someone was careless. Much sorrow and loss of life has begun with a
spark. Yes, the tongue is a raging fire that must be kept under control.

Let us now look at some examples of this rage and evil of the tongue.
Slander, gossip, lies and evil speaking are all ungodly things. Before WWII the Nazis
first spoke with comtempt and disdain about the Jews before they broke their shop windows
and then turned them into the gas chambers. The furnace of hatred is still billowing ashes
around the world today. Much of the German propaganda machine was fueled by hatred and
envy.

Even the truth about someone?s weakness or shortcomings can be
used to hurt him. Innocent sounding words can have evil intentions. The tongue is a fire.
Who has not felt the heat of it upon their own lives and reputations? Yes, the tongue is a
fire. Oh, be careful of the devastation it can cause.

II. THE RANGE OF THE TONGUE

In verse five of the same chapter, we are told that the tongue is a
“little member.” Its littleness, however, does not limit its range of influence.
It has been said that a lie can travel around the world twice while truth is still getting
its boots on.

We must be aware of the range of this weapon of Satan. Just as a pebble
dropped into a pond will send ripples to the farthest shore, so a word ill spoken will
eventually reach the farthest ears and do its damage.

There is a story told about a woman who was a gossiper and had spread
lies and slander all over town about a godly servant of Christ. The day came when she was
convicted about her wrong doing and wanted to clear her conscience. She came to the man
and asked forgiveness for speaking such false things about him. The man said, “I will
forgive you but there is one thing I must ask you to do first.” He instructed her to
“Get a bag full of feathers and come back and see me.” Although this seemed to
be a strange request, she complied and returned with the feathers. “Now I want you to
go and place a feather on the doorstep of every person you have spoken to about me.”
She again complied and returned. The wise man then said, “Now I want you to go back
and gather up all the feathers you have left and bring them back to me.”

After a time, she returned explaining that the wind had apparently
blown them away and there was no recapturing them. The man then went on to explain,
“Yes, no chance, and so it is with a word once it is spoken. It can never be
recaptured again. The wind will carry gossip like a feather from one house to another and
all the repentance in the world will not undo the damage done.” The woman went home
in tears realizing that she had caused so much harm. This brings us to the pain cause by
the tongue.

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