Just A Little Fire

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. – James 3:5b-11.

A 12-year-old boy in Bavaria wanted to have some fun and wanted his paper airplane to have a light. His way of doing that was to set his airplane on fire and then to throw it. The airplane first set a hedge on fire, which was next to pool house, and summer home. The fire spread from the hedge to the pool house and on to the summer home. The summer home and the pool house were burned out and two garages were charred slightly. A police spokesman for the town of Oberasbach said, “The boy wasn’t looking to start a fire. He just wanted to light his plane.”

The tongue is such a wondrous thing that can bring forth so much good and blessing. However, as James points out sometimes the tongue brings forth cursing as if it were words from the pit of hell itself. Like a wildfire the words seem to spread from person to person becoming completely out of control and developing into something that takes on a life of its own. The words we speak may be added to or subtracted from metamorphosing into something completely different from what we originally intended. Once those words have gone out from our mouths and have been heard by others there is no way to take them back and our control over them has been relinquished.

James has some very good advice in regard to the tongue, “my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).” If we do not guard our speech we will find that a tiny part of our body has become as a rudder of a ship directing our lives this way and that. James says, “Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires (James 3:4).” Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Another American President, Calvin Coolidge also had some words of wisdom about our speech. Coolidge said, “I have never been hurt by anything I did not say.” The writer of Proverbs had some similar advice, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).” “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).”

Your words may be just a little fire but they may consume a forest before dying out. So, before you open your mouth the next time to speak remember how important it is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) because what you say or do not say will determine to a great extent your success or failure in life.

(Our speech to a great extent will determine our success or failure in life.)

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