TO CHEW ON: "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." James 3:5
Which of these could start a forest fire?
- a cigarette butt
- a spark from a campfire
- a match
If you answered, “all of them,” you’re right! When the forest is dry, the tiniest spark starts a fire which can grow to destroy miles and miles of trees, hundreds of homes, businesses, power lines, animals, and even people.
James compares the words we say (with the help of the little red, wet, wiggly thing in our mouths called a tongue) to sparks that start a forest fire. But can our words really do that much damage?
Jonah Goes to Nineveh - Artist unknown
Well, consider the damage these words did:
- Joseph’s boasting words caused his brothers to hate him and sell him as a slave.(Genesis 37)
- The fearful words of ten spies caused the Hebrew people to rebel against Moses. They ended up wandering in the dessert for 40 more years. (Numbers 13:26 - 14:4)
- The words of a preacher called Jonah caused a whole city to turn to God. (Jonah 3)
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to understand the power of my words. May I speak words which encourage, express love and build people up. Amen.
MORE: Wise Words
There are many wise sayings about words and speech. Three of the sayings below are from the Bible, three are not. Which are Bible quotes?
1. A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2. A loose tongue often gets into a tight place.
3. The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.
4. The tongue has the power of life and death.
5. A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
6. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Check the ANSWERS to see where the Bible quotes are found and who said the other ones.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.