Thursday 28 March

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

In a tinder-dry forest, it does not take much to ignite a raging inferno. The tiniest spark can “set ablaze” and tragically destroy an entire stand of old growth forest. There is a momentum, “the cycle of nature,” that is set in motion when fire is loosed in a forest.

One of the terrifying realities of life is that I have no ability to control the effects of my words once they are released into the world.

There is an old preacher’s story that makes this point.

In a small village a resident shared an incriminating piece of gossip. The person about whom the story was shared was eventually forced to leave the village as the malicious gossip spread like wild fire. When the person who had first shared the story learned it was completely false, he went to the local pastor, repented and sought forgiveness. The pastor replied before forgiveness could be granted the gossiper must take a down pillow, walk through the village and place one feather in the front yard of each home. When the task was completed the gossiper returned to the pastor and asked forgiveness. The pastor replied, “There is just one thing more you must do. Retrace your steps, collect each feather you have left and then you will be forgiven.”

Once the words are out of my mouth, they take on a life of their own. I have no control over where the wind may carry my words or where they will land.

I need to guard well the words I speak and never fail to understand that, if my words are “set on fire by hell” they always bring death and destruction in their wake.

My words will be less likely to set ablaze a destructive inferno, if I stop for a second before letting them escape from my mouth. When I pause, take a breath, and try to see where the words I plan to speak are coming from, I am more likely to speak words of life rather than death.