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“Set on fire by hell.”

It’s hard to imagine a more vivid way of describing something terrible, no-good, or diabolically problematic. When it comes to the flagrant flapping of lips, the Bible details the power of the human tongue like none other.

And with the 2024 election upon us, many could be more tempted than normal to babble or savagely tap our keyboards without thinking.

If we’re not careful, we can allow our words to run away and do real damage.

Of course, this becomes increasingly problematic in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s conviction last Thursday, an event that quickly sent shockwaves through the political stratosphere and further ignited an already insane cultural forest fire.

A lot of us have emotions and opinions about what unfolded in the courtroom. But how do we engage? And, more importantly, where do we find the strength for self-control so we don’t burn down relationships and hurt others in the process?

Well, it all starts with some old-fashioned self-control.

The Book of James has pretty powerful words on the matter, revealing why we must be incredibly careful when it comes to navigating our tongues.

“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,” James 3:5 (NIV) reads, with verse 6 continuing, “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.”

We all know the whole sticks and stones mantra, but the reality is: that mess is an ugly lie. Words hurt, have the power to divide friendships and families, and can be completely unforgettable in all the worst ways.

James goes on to say the tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Most of us know this because we’ve been hurt by others; some of us know because we’ve used our lips to inflict pain and, in turn, have harmed people.

We simply have to think deeper before we speak, especially in these emotional moments when rage can send our mouths into a tailspin.

Not only is it not worth losing relationships, but we’re also called to love others and to see them as created in God’s image.

So, as you navigate the Trump conviction or any other triggering event, pull back, reflect, and ponder the ways in which you can tame your tongue and show some grace. It’s tough but necessary.

Consider starting with a simple prayer every morning (and throughout the day this week): “Lord, give me self-control in my words, comments, social media activities, and interactions. Help me to reflect you in all I say and do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

This article was written by Billy Hallowell and originally appeared on

Billy Hallowell is a journalist, commentator and digital TV host who has covered thousands of the biggest faith and culture stories. He’s written more than 14,000 stories on faith, culture and politics, has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, authors and influencers and is the author of four books. He is currently a journalist and host with CBN News and Faithwire and was formerly the director of content and communications at Pure Flix and the former faith and culture editor at TheBlaze.

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