Have you ever had to square up with a wildfire? I have. Not once, but at least twice. 7 or 8 years old at that. It wasn’t forced child labour. It just comes with the territory when you have a family farm, literally. It just, literally, comes with the territory. All the children had to help.
I remember the sweat, and confusion. You grabbed anything your hands could lay hold of; buckets of water were a bonus, but the preferred defensive mechanism was large, soaked cloths or leafy branches broken off from the nearest tree. Farmers were rushing in water with pickup trucks from surrounding farms.
Dust, soot and flames were everywhere. My eyeballs melting, dry in their sockets. Breathing through the smokey thickness became more difficult by the minute. At times you would feel the panic permeate the red sky, but there was no time to have a breakdown at the moment. Our only option was to skirmish through the flaming inferno.
Every time I see runaway fires in California,the land Down Under or even the local Knysna fires a couple of years ago, it reminds me of that memory etched into my mind. This renewed my understanding in regards to the passage in James;
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.
Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:
so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body,
and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
James 3:5-6 KJV
You see, every disastrous fire had to start with a single, seemingly harmless spark. The sparks in this case could be white lies, kitchen slander, vague gossip or just plain meaningless blabber. JUST a spark, nothing more and nothing less - NO! Loose lips sink ships, as the saying goes. Haven’t we all added some exaggerated detail to sauce up a story? This should not be so brothers and sisters. Especially not in the body of believers. I fell into that trap before.
The destruction that wildfires cause does not only measure in the millions (in terms of money) but also requires a time consuming recovery. It could take decades for fauna and flora to recover from devastation of the burnt residue. These are the true casualties. No amount of money can buy you time, recovery time in this case.
In the same manner, when idle words are spoken in relationships, the path of destruction could be difficult to recover fully from. Once the bond of trust is breached it is not a simple task to mend.
Do you not know you (and me) will be held accountable for every idle word spoken?
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified,
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Matthew 12:36-37 KJV
Alrighty, so where does this leave us? We need to still approach Abba’s throne of grace with boldness, but doesn’t this Scripture place a dark cloud over our boldness to approach His throne?
Our words, like the rest of our lives, should be refined. In this case the modus operandi is burning with piping, hot coals. You will see what I mean by that in a minute.
As I went through the ever familiar event of Moses and the burning bush, I wondered what caused Moses’ speech impediment? Surely there had to be a second witness. I did some digging. Although I take the Book of Jasher, with a grain of salt (or a heap of salt), it has an interesting account for what happened to Moses’ speech.
If it please the king let the king send for men who shall bring before him an onyx stone and a coal of fire, and place them before the child (Moses), and if the child shall stretch forth his hand and take the onyx stone, then shall we know that with wisdom has the youth done all that he has done, and we must slay him.
But if he stretched forth his hand upon the coal, then shall we know that it was not with knowledge that he did this thing, and he shall live.
And the thing seemed good in the eyes of the king and the princes, so the king did according to the word of the angel of the Lord. And the king ordered the onyx stone and coal to be brought and placed before Moses.
And they placed the boy (Moses) before them, and the lad endeavored to stretch forth his hand to the onyx stone, but the angel of the Lord took his hand and placed it upon the coal, and the coal became extinguished in his hand, and he lifted it up and put it into his mouth, and burned part of his lips and part of his tongue, and he became heavy in mouth and tongue. And when the king and princes saw this, they knew that Moses had not acted with wisdom in taking off the crown from the king's head. So the king and princes refrained from slaying the child, so Moses remained in Pharaoh's house, growing up, and the Lord was with him.
Now, prior to this insert there was a moment where baby Moses removed Pharaoh's crown from his head. Pharaoh's counsellors were concerned of the prophetic implication. Pharaoh's motley crew described it as an omen, that Moses will remove Pharoah's kingship. That led up to testing Moses.
Isaiah, the prophet, describes having a similar experience:
Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Isaiah 6:5-8 KJV
This video by Simon Khorolskiy, gives a vivid illustration of the above mentioned Scripture in Isaiah. We need to be purified. He is holy. And He longs for us to also be set-apart, holy, as He is.
Abba needs to consecrate our lips. Remember His own Word is refined, how many times?
The words of the LORD are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Psalm 12:6 KJV
And refining in this case AIN'T happening with water, but with FIRE. If the Creator's words are refined and purified with fire how much more does ours need to be? Our words should be weighed and carefully considered before spoken. This is not to take away from the spontaneity of congregating, but encouraging to tread with caution when it comes to our tongue.
I am preaching to myself here. Amazing how the Ruach does that. I start to write something and then She convicts me of my own shortcomings, during my typing, that I need to repent of. Reminds me of the principal at primary school that so graciously allowed me to choose my own beating stick. But hey, He disciplines those He loves.
Brothers and sisters, let us not end up in the fires of confusion and distrust that we ignited with our very own loose lips. It will not be as simple as grabbing a buckling bucket of water or a leafy branch to extinguish it. The best solution would be to avoid it all together and weigh our words beforehand.
And weigh thy words in a balance, and make a door and bar for thy mouth.
When we end up on the disciplinary side of the inferno due to verbal diarrhoea we (and I in this case) need to repent and ask forgiveness from the casualties of the unrefined words. The only problem here is, relationships, like the scorched fauna and flora, take years to recover. This is not, NOT, an easy fix.
A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence. He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
Liar, liar, tongues on fire
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We would like to extend a special thank you to Janika Martinson for helping us with the editing of this blog post.