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. (ESV)
I have always found it amusing when I hear people say that mankind is basically good. They have hope because they believe in the good of humanity. I do not have faith in the good of myself, much less the rest of humanity! One of the reasons I do not believe in the good of humanity is that I believe the Bible is true. The truth of Scripture informs us of our sinful condition.
Our human nature is sinful at its core. It loves to rebel against God's Law. It seeks to please itself at all times. It does not care who it hurts to get what it wants. How does the tongue factor into this terrible sinful nature? The tongue gives voice to all of the sinful desires that rage inside of us. It is bad enough that our desires are evil. When we open our mouths and speak our sin can now hurt others.
The tongue is described as a fire. This is such a great example. Consider that juicy bit of gossip that destroys someone. The fire of words are able to wound a person, even causing permanent damage. It is fueled by the fire of hell. Consider that with fire there is smoke. The smoke travels far farther than the initial fire. Likewise a gossiping tongue causes damage far and wide.
Words can destroy. I remember as a child hearing the phrase, "Sticks and stones may brake my bones, but words will never hurt me." That is a lie. Often times words hurt far more than physical pain. A father telling a child that they will never be worth anything. A wife telling her husband he is a loser. A brother telling a sister that she is ugly and will never be loved. Words destroy. The tongue is a fire.
We are sinful by nature. That sinful nature has an outlet to express itself. It is our fiery tongue. Ask the Lord to forgive you for using your tongue to engage the sinful nature. Ask him to sanctify your tongue for His use.