The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was one of the largest disasters in American history. In popular accounts from the time, Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in a barn. The small flame became an inferno that destroyed miles of homes and burned Chicago’s business district to the ground.
More recently, in 2018, the Ranch Fire in California became the largest wildfire in the state’s history, killing a firefighter and burning over 410,000 acres. It was caused by a single spark from a hammer that someone was using to drive a metal stake into the ground.
It’s remarkable that so much destruction can begin with a single spark. That’s why the Bible warns us to be careful with our words. James 3:15 says, “It only takes a spark to set off a forest fire.” Our speech can turn harmony into chaos, throw mud on a reputation, or send the whole world up in smoke.
But just as our words have the power to destroy, they also have the power to give life. What we say can lift people up on our shoulders when they succeed or put an arm around them when they fail. We can shower people with encouragement, support them in grief, or fill their hearts with love that connects them to us even when they’re alone.
Our words are never empty. For bad … or for good … our words are filled with power. The only question for us to answer is: how will we use them?
Leave a Reply