The Danger of a Small Fire
“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” James 3:5 (NKJV)
We’d enjoyed a great holiday weekend — a great time with family, lots of time to fellowship and awesome food. I seasoned the meat. My husband grilled. The best part? Cooking over the coals outside meant no cleanup for me!
Early the next morning, my husband took out the trash. He gathered the dark rocks from the night before, threw them in a black plastic bag and put them out with the rest of the trash. He left for work, and I turned my focus to the business of starting yet another day of work, managing the home and school with the kids.
A couple hours later, my doorbell rang. My neighbor stopped by to tell me my trash can was smoking. I looked outside to check. She was right. There was a thin wisp of smoke rising. I called my husband to ask him if I should be concerned. He assured me all would be fine. I went back to focusing on my work and home and kids.
Not too long after, another neighbor knocked on the door and told me the same thing. I looked at the trash can again. Things looked the same. I reassured the concerned neighbor that my husband wasn’t worried, and the small cloud hovering over the container hadn’t changed much as the morning progressed.
An hour later, when one of my boys asked if I knew about the smoke in the front of our house, I flippantly reassured him that I did. He urged me to look again because the smoke was getting bigger.
I walked through my front door expecting to see the same dainty trail of smoke that I’d noticed all morning. Instead, I walked outside to find smoke billowing into the air. I made my way closer to the can to peer inside and was met with the sight of flames licking up and out of the container.
I ran inside to grab my cell phone, call my husband and grab a bucket of water. By the time I made it back outside, the trash can was melting.
And the flames were much bigger than before.
I called the fire department.
Can I just say that I felt like an idiot, watching the big ol’ firetruck pull up in front of my house? In no time flat, they put out the fire and talked to me and my husband, who’d come home from work, about making sure coals are cool before disposing of them.
Such a small thing can cause a big problem.
James 3:5 reminds us that while our tongue is small, it can cause major damage if it’s not attended to or kept in check. “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!”
It’s tempting to think how we use our tongues is inconsequential. Our words may not appear to do much damage, so we aren’t more careful. We put our words into the world when we should hold our tongue and let our hearts or emotions cool down first. We ignore all indicators that tell us we might be setting something (or someone) on fire.
And when people try to tell us that we’ve hurt or offended them with our words or that our speech is not helpful, we hear them, but move on, unaware or indifferent to the smoldering danger that can destroy someone close to us.
I’m reminded today that my words have power. The power to heal and the power to hurt. Words are no small thing. May I encourage you to be careful how you use your tongue? Let’s choose blessing over cursing. Help over hurt. And choose to wait rather than rush the wrong words into the world.
Dear God, help me use my tongue in a way that honors You. I don’t want this small part of my body to cause damage in my own or in others’ lives. Help me be aware of the power of my tongue and use it to honor others and glorify You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NASB)
Would you like to know more about what it means to honor God, yourself and others with the words you use? Check out Chrystal Evans Hurst’s new book, She’s Still There!
Often helpful words start with a healthy thought life. Looking to learn what it means to take your thoughts captive? Chrystal’s designed a free 3-day devotional to give you practical help for renewing your mind. CLICK HERE for your free download.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is controlling your tongue hard? Why do you think that is?
How has God helped you grow in this area? What practical tips or tools are helpful in being careful with how you use your words?
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