By Elizabeth Prata
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. (James 3:8).
That’s pretty dramatic. You think of Hitler as evil. Child molesting as evil. Abortion as evil. But the tongue? Sticks and stones can hurt my bones but names will never hurt me?
Yes. The tongue.
But it goes beyond that. The tongue is a restless evil. It is restless. Restless means its evil never stops. It is always moving.
As our pastor was teaching on this section of James in our weekly Bible Study, I thought of some other verses that brought the word ‘restless’ to mind.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8).
The evil adversary prowls. Prowling is a relentless movement, always looking, scanning, seeking.
I thought of this from Job 1:7,
The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
Roaming is a restless movement. Its evil is always skulking, scavenging.
And this from Genesis 4:7b,
And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.
Crouching brings to mind the coiled movement of a pounce like the lion prowling above. Ready to spring into action. In other words, ‘a restless evil.’ Back to the beginning of the essay.
I think we vastly underestimate the potency of sin. We disregard the immediate and always-near danger that satan and his minions present. I think we terribly minimize our fleshly desires for unrighteousness. Satan never sleeps. Our sin always lurks.
Jeremiah 17:9 asks a rhetorical question,
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
And James 3:8 also asks another rhetorical question about a body part, the tongue. Who can tame it?
We know the answer to that, Jesus. We stay in the Word, and we pray and we repent, and we be mindful of His precepts as we go through the day. We have to. Evil is restless.