It Only Takes a Spark



“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. 
The tongue also is a fire…” James 3:5-6

Scripture warns us that the tongue is often a chief cause of conflict…Reckless words, spoken hastily and without thinking, inflame many conflicts.  “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18; cf. Prov 13:3; 17:28; 21:23; 29:20).  Although we may seldom set out deliberately to hurt others with our words, sometimes we do not make much of an effort not to hurt others.  We simply say whatever comes to mind without thinking about the consequences.  In the process, we may hurt and offend others, which only aggravates conflict.

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 121

Food for Thought

Do your words heal or pierce?  Not sure?  Look at the people around you.   

But first, let’s take a little stroll down memory lane for a moment.  In the 70’s, many Christians were singing, “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.”  Remember that?  And while that song was referring to the fire of God’s love, that phrase always brought to mind James’ warnings concerning the tongue.  How about this one?  “Only you can prevent forest fires.”  Smokey the Bear’s deep-throated plea emphasized the incendiary potential of our personal irresponsibility.

Now, how about looking back at last month or last week?  Was there any time when just one of your words could have been described as reckless?  Or was there even one moment when you just said what you felt with an attitude of “I’m not responsible for how she interprets this, I’m just going to say it.”  Does anything like that feel familiar?  If so, if you look beyond the “memory lane” you’re strolling down, you may see a scorched landscape.

The culture in which we live seems to worship the reckless word; the popular people just call it being “snarky.” For some reason, we’ve equated reckless with being wide-eyed and grown-up.  The reality is that reckless should be equated with near-sighted and immature.  Our marriages, families, schools, churches and country are ablaze. Oh, of course, we really didn’t mean to set them on fire, but we really didn’t make the effort to not set them on fire, either.  Memory without responsibility leaves us nostalgic and blind, with smoke in our eyes because our hearts are on fire.  Remember, through the power of the Holy Spirit, only you can prevent those fires set by reckless words.


I’m reminded of older folks who just say whatever because they are old and have a ‘right’ to.

Anyone have any experience with this one?

Please share. Kristina

One response »

  1. I think most couples who have been married for any length of time knows just how to slice and dice their words to cut to the quick.

    However, over time and maturity (in the Lord) these bad habits can be (at least) minimized.

    Of couuse I am not perfect at it but I have gotten much better at speaking blessings instead of curses.

    My problem is that I see things in black and white, right or wrong and at times feel it is “my job” to fix the situation. Mostly now I will only butt in if it involves something bad happening to a child…. any child.

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