“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
EPHESIANS 4:29, NIV
Peshtigo, Wisconsin, is a quaint city tucked into the northeastern part of the state, about forty-five minutes north of Green Bay. It’s split in half by the Peshtigo River, with a small bridge spanning the water. Outside the city limits, it’s known for little “else other than the deadly—and still somewhat mysterious—catastrophe that struck on October 8, 1871.
Settled around 1838, Peshtigo started as a logging town. With the river nearby and expansive forests all around, the city’s location was a natural place for enterprising loggers to set up operations.
Life continued—and timber fell—in Peshtigo for several more decades. And then it happened. To this day, no one knows how. Perhaps a spark from a logger’s fire or a passing steam-engine train hit some grass that had dried out in that year’s drought.
Whatever the cause, a fire started—a huge fire. By the time it stopped, it had consumed an estimated 1.5 million acres and killed between one thousand and two thousand people. It remains the deadliest forest fire in US history.
Sadly, a similar destructive power can be found in the human tongue. James 3:5-6 says, “A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.”
“WHAT’S IT MEAN?
Wow, Scripture certainly isn’t shy about revealing the dangers of human speech! God wants to make it very clear: our words matter, and if we’re not careful, they can cause great harm.
As today’s verse says, our words should build others up with encouragement, not tear them down with verbal assaults. So avoid mocking, belittling, and name-calling. The same mouth that praises God should never insult those who are made in his image (James 3:9-10).”
In our speech, we must follow Jesus’ example. When he was verbally attacked, he never retaliated (1 Peter 2:23). He always lovingly spoke the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68, NIV).
Don’t destroy others with a raging inferno of angry words! Build them up with Christlike encouragement.
Have you offended someone with your words recently? If so, ask for that person’s forgiveness.
DID YOU KNOW?
“The Bible also warns against other improper speech too. Ephesians 5:4 says, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving” (NIV).”
Excerpt From: Cooley, Joshua. “The One Year Devotions with Jesus.” Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015-10-01.