Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife (Proverbs 26:18-21).
I’ve been taught that fire needs three things: fuel, oxygen and heat. But I know a firefighter (Jason) who corrected me on this. It is actually a fire tetrahedron: along with fuel, oxygen and heat there is a fourth element called a chemical chain reaction. If you knock one of these out, you don’t have a fire.
A fight needs the same four things: inflammatory words, people to say and repeat them, folks to react to them, and hot tempers. It doesn’t take much to start a fire, and it is pretty easy for people to fight.
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell (James 3:5-6).
This is what brings down nations, splits churches, destroys the workplace environment and causes the home to fall apart.
Here are some passages about the heat, fuel, oxygen and chemical chain reactions that cause fires in our relationships. Let’s meditate upon this today, men.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body (Proverbs 18:8; 26:22).
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1)
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler (Proverbs 20:19).
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly (Proverbs 15:1-2).
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression (Proverbs 29:22).
Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame (Proverbs 18:12-13).