A tiny flame can start a massive blaze. This basic fact has implications that affect one of our core behaviors as Christians.
On September 10, 2012 over two hundred homes were destroyed by fire in the popular resort area of Costa Del Sol, Spain. A gardener was suspected of starting the fire by carelessly burning trash.
“Although the gardener is one of fours suspects, regardless of who started it, there are so many people who lack common sense it is incredible,” said Angel Nozal, mayor of Mijas (“Careless Gardener Suspected of Causing Costa Del Sol Fire,” TheOlivePress.es, September 9, 2012).
So what does this mean to you and me? Believe it or not, this analogy is used in the Bible. The book of James puts it this way, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! (James 3:5 James 3:5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles!
American King James Version×)”
James goes on throughout this chapter, continuing to stress the importance of the tongue. He wants us to understand that what we say can be just as destructive as a forest fire.
Watching what we say
Language can be treacherous and dangerous, but also uplifting and supportive if we use it the right way. Our words can have a profound, long-lasting effect on others. How we refer to someone will alter our thoughts and the thoughts of others about that individual. Do the words we say tear down? Are we, in a sense, burning up everyone around us? Does our tongue defile our whole body with bitter words?
Proverbs 15:4 Proverbs 15:4A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
American King James Version×explains that, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” Wholesome things are healthy, or pure. So what we say should reflect pure and healthy thoughts. It’s important to remember, “…out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45 Luke 6:45A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
American King James Version×).” To genuinely change what we say starts with our thoughts, and most importantly… the intent of our heart.
This is an individual responsibility. No one has written a book on “Watching Your Words for Dummies.” Ask God for purity of heart and mind, and make a concerted effort to control your tongue every day. With God’s help we can tackle this challenge!