August 1, 2015
READ: James 3:1-12
A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire (v.5).
In 2004 a man went over a dry, brown patch of grass while mowing his lawn. A blade on the mower struck a rock and created a spark, which resulted in a fire that soon raged out of control. The resulting catastrophe, known as the Bear Fire, blackened 10,484 acres of land and destroyed more than 80 homes. To put out the blaze required the efforts of 33 fire crews and 42 fire engines.
The Bible says, “A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire” and “the tongue is a small thing that . . . can set [a person’s] whole life on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire” (James 3:5-6). Our words can do great damage even as they reveal what’s inside of us. Jesus said, “From the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander” (Matthew 15:18-19).
Because our words have the potential to cause harm, the Bible advises us to limit what we say. Just as a contained fire can be used for cooking or heating, so also restricting our speech can have benefits for us. Proverbs 21:23 presents one way to steer clear of trouble: “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut”! And Proverbs 15:28 reminds us that “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking.”
As we yield to His work in our lives, the Holy Spirit helps us grow to better reflect God and His ways. As a result, the effects of our words will change too! The Bible compares the words of a godly person to sterling silver—something precious and valuable (10:20).
God’s Spirit provides what we need to reflect the kindness, gentleness and self-control that come from knowing Jesus. May we submit to His work today and use words that spark godly ways—not raging flames.
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
365-day-plan: Luke 10:25-42
Look up Psalm 39:1 to see David’s thoughts about restraining harmful speech. Read Luke 23:3, 8-9 to see examples of verbal self-control.
How can we honour God by speaking but also at times by remaining silent? How has technology changed the way our words are heard? How can we use it to share loving and helpful words?