How Great a Forest a Little Fire Kindles

How Great a Forest a Little Fire Kindles

Fire is an amazing thing. As our kids sing, “it only takes a spark to get a fire going,” it doesn’t take much to turn that spark into a raging blaze. James 3 has much to say about the tongue in a very practical, down-to-earth way. In doing so, James 3:5-6 focuses on the destructive power of words in seeing the tongue in an out-of-control manner. Notice a few thoughts of the “tongues of fire”:

Tinder for a fire is everywhere. “See how great a forest a little fire kindles” (James 3:5). The people we see and the places we go and the things we do everyday are ripe for the destructive use of speech. How do we speak about our spouse, our parents, or siblings, our neighbors, our coworkers, or our brethren? In a short order, careless words will destroy lives and reputations!

Fire needs to be respected and feared for its power. A friend of mine let me use an acetylene torch once. He told me, “you need to treat this like a loaded gun…if you turn it to face someone while its lit, it’s a trip to the emergency room immediately for third-degree burns.” James says, “the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness” (Jas. 3:6). When it is not respected or feared for its destructive power, it will speak unrighteously and will cause unrighteous thoughts and behaviors!

The smell of smoke lingers long after the fire is gone. Ever gone to someone’s house who smokes regularly? Ever smelled like a campfire for a long time after a campout? Just because the fire is out does not mean that the lingering effects are not evident. James says the tongue is able to, “stain the whole body” (Jas. 3:6). What words have you said that still stick with people? You cannot un-ring a bell and you cannot “take back” the words that defile! “Oh be careful little mouth what you say!”

My thoughts right now are of the people in the Texas Panhandle as a wildfire half the size of Rhode Island (as of Wednesday) engulfs the area. I hope you will keep those people in your prayers (especially the Albers family who we know and love in Sunray). AB


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