Colorado is ablaze in forest fires. Our own home was put under a sudden order of evacuation on Tuesday night with the fear that it could be burned to the ground, though we were not there to remove any irreplaceable family items. This particular fire, called the Waldo Canyon Fire, began last Saturday. The origin isn’t yet known, but a strong possibility exists that this is the work of an arsonist, knowing at least 20 other fires in the adjoining county were set by an arsonist just days earlier; but were discovered and put out. The Waldo Canyon Fire has consumed over 18,000 acres of pine forest destroying hundreds of homes as well as a well-loved historic dinner/country western entertainment lodge and ranch called the Flying W. The fire has continued to rage! And our neighborhood has not been allowed to return.
Fire, exposed to the elements of unpredictable, strong winds, is an explosive, powerful force. With remarkable speed it consumes all in its path leaving complete ashes. If you have ever seen it at work while feeling the fierce blow torch heat which it generates, you know how incredibly difficult it is to tame it, contain it, and douse it! The Word of God equates this physical, destructive inferno to what one of the smallest parts of the human body can do when it is loosed with unfettered abandon. The Holy Spirit by no means exaggerates the comparison. The tongue is every bit as destructive spiritually as a forest fire is physically. Man’s tendency is to minimize the tongue’s power to create just what James says it does—a forest fire.
When God’s warnings concerning the tongue are not heeded, an arsonist goes to work. I cannot verbalize how angry I become when considering that an arsonist purposively sets a fire creating widespread physical destruction. Yet this is exactly what happens when your tongue is not controlled by the Holy Spirit; you throw words like a spark into dry tinder often producing such evil and destruction that scars remain in people’s lives, some so deep that the healing does not come soon if ever.
The words of hurt that roll so easily off one’s tongue are not always intended as a poisonous dart. One, they may be simply careless words and insensitive to the hearer(s) and circumstance. Two, words said with haste and little measured thought can set a world on fire. Three, when you speak what at the moment you believe is truth, but in actuality is little more than personal opinion when not corroborated by the truth of God’s Word, you lead others astray, and pass off heresy as truth. Four, when you speak with the purpose of raising your own importance while lowering the importance of others you fail to apply the mind of Christ, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3) Five, when you use your tongue for the purposes of revenge you arrogantly usurp the prerogative of God, “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. Six, when you speak with the intent to destroy another out of spite, or hate, or anger devoid of righteousness, you are nothing more than a murderous arsonist; someone you despise when it is the physical act.
If an arsonist fries your hide as he does mine, then the work of the spiritual arsonist who frequently uses his tongue contrary to the command of God, ought to stir your emotions to a similar degree, especially in self-analysis; personal emotions of sufficient intensity which will produce a discipline of the will to ensure your conversation is “full of grace, seasoned with salt, always speaking the truth in love. Unless you fill your mind with the person of Christ, and nurture your vocabulary with the content of His own Word, you will never temper your tongue, in season and out, when you are ready to speak, and when you are not, to be a firefighter rather than an arsonist. The world has Oh so many arsonists. . . . .too few firefighters! As a believer in Christ you have the freedom to choose the path you will take.
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