“A small flame can set an immense heap of wood on fire.”
We often see the truth of those words in the fires that sweep through parched fields and forests, sometimes destroying vast areas including homes and lives.
Fire, like water, can be one of man’s greatest friends or fiercest enemies, depending upon its use or abuse. Man can start something that he cannot stop and that small flame can grow into a roaring forest fire destroying everything in its path including the one who originally started it.
We can see how much fire is like life. Properly used, many things are beneficial and helpful, but if they are abused, these same things can cause our downfall.
A power for good or evil
The Bible writer James cites the tongue as an example. He says,
“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;” (James 3:5-6 NKJV)
James continues by contrasting the good the tongue can do with the evil that it can cause. He says:
“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 3:9-10 NKJV)
No wonder James exclaims concerning the tongue
“See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:5 NKJV)
We certainly can not outlaw fire because of its potential destructive power because when it’s properly used it performs an invaluable service to man.
The same is true of the tongue. We cannot cut out the tongue because of the terrible things it says. It is control, not amputation that is needed!
What do you think?
In the case of fires, certain precautions can help prevent them from starting. Keep the area clean, remove brush and rubbish, get rid of oily rags, get a small fire extinguisher and keep it handy. All of these things can help prevent a disastrous blaze that would destroy life and property.
So it is with the tongue. Certain precautions can help prevent the damaging effects that an unruly tongue can cause.
Jesus said to the Pharisees,
“How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 NKJV)
Just as surely as certain conditions will cause a fire, so evil thoughts will cause the tongue to say unholy things. To solve the problem, we must go to the root of the trouble and that is to control our thinking. If we will learn to think good thoughts we will speak good words.
We are the product of our thinking. Almost every act is first an idea. We are what we think about all day long. This is why Paul laid so much stress upon training our minds to think along spiritual lines. He tells us,
“Whatever things are true (never think a lie and we’ll never tell one), whatever things are noble (never think of cheating), whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)
In the case of fires and tongues, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we will only learn to think godly thoughts we will save much more than just our homes. We will save our lives in the day of Christ’s coming.