November 30, 2012


Brothers, don't let too many of you become teachers. Error is common to everyone, of course, but we who teach are subject to even sterner judgment. The consummate man is he whose discourse is free from error, because he maintains a hold on the bridle to his whole body. So do we steer whole horse's bodies, when we put bridle-bits in their mouths, in order that they obey. And behold the ships: big as they are and driven by the crashing winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder in whatever direction the pilot pleases. This is how the tongue works: a small appendage, it makes grandiose declarations. Behold the quantity of timber kindled by a tongue-sized fire!

The tongue is itself a fire. Among our appendages, the tongue was installed as an ornament of iniquity, defiling our whole body and setting alight the wheel of coming-into-being with a flame caught from Gehenna. Humankind is capable of enslaving every stripe of beast and bird, every reptile and creature of the sea, and has done so; but the tongue is something no human being has ever enslaved - an unsteady evil, swollen with deadly venom. We bless the Lord and Father with it, and with it we curse [our fellow] human beings, who were born into God's likeness. Brothers, it should not happen that curse and blessing issue from the same mouth. Do fresh and stagnant water bubble up from the same spring? My brothers: can fig trees put forth olives? or grapevines figs? No more than seawater can be made fresh to drink.

James 3:1-12