On May 1, 2016, a wildfire began in Fort McMurray in Alberta which has spread rapidly through the city, destroying more than 2400 homes and forcing largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history. It is reported that it would cost nearly 9 Billion dollars to rebuild the damaged areas, which may make it the costliest disaster in Canadian history. Now also in California, deadly wildfires have destroyed at least 1500 homes, businesses, and other structures and forced about 20,000 people to evacuate.
As I read the news and watched the videos of victims, I felt deep sorrow for those who’ve lost everything they had through the wildfire. In the Book of James in the Bible, James says that just like a small fire sets the whole forest burned, our tongue is like the fire that can burn down our whole life. I used to think of it as a mere analogy or even an exaggeration to make a point but after watching how devastating the wildfire can be, I came to realize this to be true. All it takes is one small fire to take thousands of people’s homes and even their lives.
Many would agree that the main reason why we get hurt in life is through words people speak. Abusive words obviously hurt people. But sometimes a well-meaning joke could end up hurting a good relationship badly. Just how a small fire started the deadly wildfires, no one never considered their words to be deadly but the damage is severe and many times it is uncontrollable. No wonder James said if anyone can perfectly control his tongue, he is a perfect man.
I’ve made some bad mistakes with my words in the past. As I looked back, I realized that the time I made most mistakes were moments when I tried too hard to keep the conversation alive. By trying to keep people entertained, I try to make some jokes and many times they came out the wrong way.
So the best strategy I found that works for me is this: “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say it”. Many times people get very uncomfortable with silence in conversation that they throw in words just to fill the gap. However, we are prone to mistakes with our words if we do that too often. Listening more and talking less will always work in our favor. Before a possible great wildfire, let us try our best to keep our mouth free of coarseness and seasoned with grace and kindness to protect our precious relationships and church community.