Articles

Articles

“Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”

“Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”

Smokey Bear, (not to be confused with Yogi Bear) coined the above phrase that all have come to know and love. He is the iconic spokesmen-bear for the US Forest Service. I can’t hear about forest fires without thinking of the brilliance of James’ epistle. Maybe that’s where Smokey got it!? (Probably not…) “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).

Far too often we are careless with the most powerful muscle we possess. They say, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” but the tongue empowers the pen. How many have been invigorated into overwhelming odds on the battlefield because their captain spoke words of courage? By contrast, how many have been cut deeper than any blade by someone they love? Words are powerful tools for building up or cutting down (“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” Eph. 4:29; “edification,” NKJV — “building up,” ESV).

In 2007, a 10yo boy in southern California was playing with matches and accidentally started a fire that went on to consume 38,000 acres. With a few sticks — that are less than 1/10 of an inch  in width and only 2 1/4 inches in length — he struck a blaze that consumed 38 thousand acres… James said this 2,000 years ago. A careless word flippantly spoken can start a raging, inferno that devours everything in its path. Words cut, no matter the source; in the above example, the boy was 10 years old. We must instill a desire for caution in our communication. A ten year old boy can say something hurtful. While it may not scorch you the same as someone who maliciously tongue lashes you, it can still burn. This is perhaps why Paul admonishes the Colossians, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). It matters what you say and how you say it.

We have to do away with the attitude that says, “this is just who I am,” or “they know my heart.” It isn’t just about what you say, it is about how you say it. To some degree (pun intended!), you won’t be able to remove the blow completely. When the time comes to say, “that is sinful” to a friend, it may not matter how you say it; it may still burn. But, to whatever degree (yes, I did it again), you can — be cautious and careful. You can start a fire that rages and consumes; or, you can cool down and comfort (while not softening the truth at all!). “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Pro. 15:1). They still need the “answer,” but you don’t have to be “harsh” in giving it to them.

You can’t control what everyone else does, you can only control you. To quote Smokey, “only you can prevent forest fires.” Are you doing everything you can to prevent kindling a fire that defiles the body and harms the hearer?

  1. Wed PM Bible Study
    5/18/22 07:00pm
  2. Sun AM Bible Study
    5/22/22 09:00am
  3. Sun AM Worship
    5/22/22 10:00am
  4. Sun PM Worship
    5/22/22 06:00pm
  5. Wed PM Bible Study
    5/25/22 07:00pm
  6. View Full Calendar