Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 17: Year 1
“How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire.” (James 3:5 and6)
As I write this reflective ponder, California is suffering from out of control fires. Many people are losing all their material possessions , all the things they have. It is a very sad situation. Prayers please.
I live in the country in North Carolina. Occasionally a neighbor will burn their rubbish rather than take it to the dump. My prayer in such situations is that they are watching it closely. As James says, a small fire out of control can burn down a neighborhood. This is what they are experiencing in California.
The point that James is making is about our tongues and how left unguarded they can cause more harm than they can repair. This is especially true today where lives are ruined because someone “posted” something said by a person years ago on a social media platform. I have witnessed sports journalist fired because of some statement they said which was often taken out of context, or was their own entitled opinion. The opinion a person had years ago may not be the opinion they have today. Hopefully, we evolve over time. What our tongues have expressed in the past may not be what we feel today. We should be asking people where they are now, not where they were then.
To the point James is making, we can’t be too careful about what we say, privately or publicly. The line between private and public today may be blurred by re-sent or forwarded emails, and by what was thought to be fun videos. These are what small fires look like today that can also make people lose all they have.
James also talks about mistakes in today’s reading. I teach. And I’m here to tell you, we teachers also make mistakes. The real test of the heat of a fire is in what was intended. If love and respect and decency were the intent, then the fire (or the tongue) is well guarded. My personal rule is, if I don’t say it or do it from love, then I don’t say it or do it at all.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John