James 3:3-12 (ESV) 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
My husband, children and grandchild all love to fish. My father taught all the kids in my family how to fish, including all the details of which bait to use, which hook to choose, what strength line was needed, how to choose a fishing pole, and how to fish for the different types of fish.
As I read the scripture above I was reminded of fishing and the hook you use to catch the fish. The official description of a fish hook is as follows: A device which goes at the end of a fishing line that actually catches fish either by impaling them in the mouth or, more rarely, by snagging the body of the fish. The barb is shaped so that after the hook goes into the fishes mouth, it won’t easily come back out. A basic fishing hook is shaped like the letter J. Funny how Jesus starts with a J right?
I think the devil uses different bait, just like a fisherman to catch us on his hook. It could be anger at another person, gossip, jealously, hate, pain, the list goes on. I think we open our mouth, take the bait and then we are hooked. Some open their mouths so wide they completely swallow the hook while others are simply hooked on the mouth, the lip or even the body. Once we are hooked, just like a regular fish hook, it is hard to get loose because of the barb, we have already committed with our words.
As a fisherman, we had to choose if we were going to catch and then release the fish or if we would keep them for dinner. I assure you the devil has no plans to catch and release us. Each time we took the fish off the hook the fish would fight and wiggle to try to get away. Sometimes, they would escape from our hands and fall back in the lake. They could either fight for their life or fry in the pan. They had been caught but they were not truly captured until they were in the ice chest or in the frying pan. Then there was no hope.
The devil may have caught you with his bait I mentioned earlier. You may feel caught, you may feel trapped, captured, backed into a corner. Maybe you have started something and you don’t know how to get out of it. You don’t have to live there. Start fighting the devil and the desire to use your words against others. Fight, wiggle, jump, do whatever you can to get away from the devil. Stop and go apologize for the one you have wronged. Go back and repair the damage you mouth has made. Make amends.
Maybe you are the one that is suffering from someone else’s words. God does not approve of us tearing each other down as the scriptures says above. Pray for the person who is trying to hurt you. They have been hooked. They have been caught. Pray for their freedom. Pray for them to see a way out. Pray for you to forgive them. Don’t stop praying until they are freed. Ask others to pray with you for them. Ask God to give you wisdom on how to release the hurt you may feel and to love your enemies. In other words, do what is right, no matter how hard it is. God will honor and bless you if you do.