By Dr. Jim Wolfe
James writes about how destructive the tongue can be in his letter: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity” (James 3:6). From my childhood, I can remember the little saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” But I have found, and anyone who has ever been the recipient of words from a fiery tongue can testify, words do hurt!
I do not know why many are drawn to use the divisive and hateful words that permeate our society today. No matter where you look -- homes, schools, work places, churches, government, everywhere -- the fires of anger are ablaze! When a fire gets out of hand it is devastating!
My Dad had a Hickory Handle Saw Mill when I was growing up. One night a policeman drove by the mill about 1 o’clock in the morning while making his rounds by the local bars to see whom he could arrest. As he drove by he noticed a small fire burning in the back of the building and thought we were just burning a little trash. His assumption was incorrect, and when he came back by about 3 o’clock the Mill was totally destroyed and lay in ashes. So hot were the flames that the huge iron beams of the structure were mangled and melted. As James says, “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles!” This fire, started by an arsonist, devasted our family and I do not think that Dad ever really recovered from that loss!
I know that there will always be words of disagreement, but as I pray for America and our society, I wish people would heed the words of Paul in Ephesian 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Before we speak or write, it would do well for us to reflect on our words to see if we are kindling a little fire or ministering grace.
Proverbs 25:11 wisely declares, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” May our words be that precious!