We, who live in the Northwest, have been experiencing an extremely dry spring/summer. It has been so dry, that there have been strict water bans in effect for our little town. Every time we turn on the news, there is a new forest fire that is threatening to destroy homes and communities.
About two weeks ago, while we were camping, we took a boat ride on Lake Pend Oreille and saw firsthand the devastation one fire, imparticular, had caused. Let me tell you, it was not pretty. Yet, the fascinating part of the story is how the fire started. A boat was sinking on that lake and it shot off a flare for help. One tiny spark from the flare landed on the dry ground and that singular small spark set that side of the mountain aflame, causing devastation and destruction.
You can imagine my surprise this morning, when I read James 3:3-5 as part of our churches Summer Bible Reading Plan. James is a very challenging read, because he calls you out time after time. Just when you get done reading about rejoicing in trials, you hear about doing what God says, then you’re convicted about showing favoritism, then he says that your faith must be accompanied by actions, by the time you get to chapter three, he starts in on taming the tongue . . . YIKES!
In James 3:5, he uses the example of a forest fire to get us to understand that what may seem like an insignificant, even off-handed, comment has the potential to be one small spark that lands on dry ground and erupts into a mighty fire, bringing devastation and destruction along with it.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3:5b
There are two ways to respond to this verse:
- The first is to think about the condition of your own heart and life. Is it dry and desolate? Or is it nutrient rich and lush? A heart that is rich and lush is one that’s been nourished by God. It drinks deeply from the Word of God, it receives comfort from the Holy Spirit, it is planted in the house of the Lord. All of these things make you resistant to going up in flames over what was said about you, because you know that what God says about you trumps what anyone else says (or even thinks!).
- The second way to respond is to examine the words that come out of your own mouth. Are they life-giving or do they damage others?
- Just because you think something in your head, doesn’t mean you have to say it with your mouth.
- THINK before you speak. Is what you’re about to say:
- T – true
- H – helpful
- I – important
- N – necessary
- K – kind
- Mom really was right, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Have you ever met someone who rarely, if ever, said anything bad about anyone else? That’s the type of person I want to be. How about you? One of the greatest compliments anyone could give us is, “The thing I’ve noticed about ____________ is that she never says anything bad about anyone.” That may seem like an impossibility at this point in your life, but take heart . . . the longer you walk with Jesus, the more His character changes and shapes your character, including the words you say! With a little discipline on your part and a lot of grace on His part, your words can turn from “one small spark” James 3:5 into “the tongue of the wise that brings healing” Proverbs 12:18.
Your Friend in Ministry,