Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires of the Mouth

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 26 20 NIV

The Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign started in 1944, and in 1947 the slogan that is familiar to many came to fruition; Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires (updated in 2001 to Wildfires). It is the longest public service campaign in the United States’ history. A campaign was derived to help the prevention of forest fires. Years of education gave the ownership to the general public to be more careful and to care for the world around you. The catchphrase reflects your responsibility.

 

Our family does not do “traditional” camping (unless a cabin with running water or hotel room is traditional camping to you). This doesn’t mean that we don’t love a good campfire.  This summer we spent some time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at our family cabin. The week was filled with cleaning out the overgrowth of trees and brush on the property, which meant a BIG campfire. Our burn pit is close to the lake, but is really in the middle of the woods (like most campfires). Being in the heart of the woods means being surrounded by a plethora of “fuel” if a fire is left to its own devices. So, before we left the cabin or went to bed, we had to make sure that the fire was out.

 

The wisdom from Proverbs 26:20 resonated with me. It says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” You see, a fire is only going to burn if it is fed. Our tongue is the fire and when you remove gossip or the “fuel,” it dies down. The best way to end (avoid) a quarrel? Keep your mouth shut!  Don’t get involved in what doesn’t concern you. Don’t take up offenses of others and don’t be easily offended. Don’t talk about what you don’t know and be very slow to talk about what you do know. Practice self-control in the moment and show Christ-like love at all times. Don’t be the fuel for the fire and the fight!

 

James 3:5-6 says “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire and is itself set on fire by hell.” This just reinforces that our small tongue can do big damage.

 

Don’t fuel the flame of gossip and cause fights, only you can prevent wildfires of your mouth!

 

Erin Bormes

How Much Does Your Heart Weigh?

Proverbs 20-22

proverbs-21-2

Friday, January 27
 
Still watching that tongue of yours?  This week have you ever stopped and changed what you were going to say – or decided it shouldn’t be said at all?  Are you feeling wiser and wiser every day you are more aware of what comes out of your mouth?  Keep it up!  Today’s reading continues to sprinkle in verses about our mouth.  It is a theme repeated over and over again throughout the Proverbs.  It seems how we use our mouth really is important to Solomon, the God who inspired his writings, and the path to wisdom.  Proverbs 21:23 says, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”  Wisdom brings great reward . . . but foolishness does not.  “A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.”  (21:16)
 
 “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (21:2)   “ALL a man’s ways SEEM RIGHT to HIM.”  That explains a lot, doesn’t it?  No wonder relationships get a little sticky sometimes – all of my ways seem right to me, while all of your ways seem right to you.  Thankfully, the Lord does know what is right and knows our motives and heart.   We can pray that God will help us see ourselves clearly, truthfully – as He sees us.  I can pray that He will show me where and when I am wrong and off-track so I can make the adjustments necessary in myself.  Together we can pray that when our hearts are weighed they will not be found lacking.  And then we do the work we can to keep our hearts pure, devoted to Him,  and full of love for others.
 
 
And, for some quick lessons  . . .
 
On Drinking – “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”  (20:1)   – Don’t you think watching your words and actions and working to be Godly is challenging enough when you are sober?  Have you ever seen a good drunk Christian following God?  Watch what you are allowing to influence you.   Proverbs has several verses warning of the dangers of drinking.
 
On Revenge – “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord and he will deliver you.” (20:22)   — How wonderful to have something we can take off our busy ‘to do list’.  Life is too full to waste our time plotting and planning revenge.  Move on and leave it to God. 
 
On Drippy Faucets –  “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.”  (19:13)  Ok, that verse actually came from yesterday’s reading, but too good to pass up, and closely related to two of today’s proverbs: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (21:9) and “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” (21:19).  Not sure I can add anything to those eloquent words.  I guess it is just a reminder to me, and wives everywhere, as well as those aspiring to wifedom to ‘can the quarreling’ so our husbands don’t pitch a tent on the corner of the roof or hightail it to the desert.

Still so many great proverbs we aren’t going to have time to touch on.  Feel free to leave a comment on any of your favorite proverbs on our wordpress site!!  We would love to hear from you and learn from you.

God Bless You as You Seek to be Wise,

Marcia Railton 

 

 

 

What Are You Dishing Out Today?

Proverbs 17-19

proverbs-17-28

Thursday, January 26

So, how has your mouth been doing this week?  Today is a great time to make some positive changes.  One of my favorite Proverbs about our mouths is in today’s reading:  “The tongue has the power of life and death” (18:21).   Life or Death – you can’t get more powerful than that.  Life or Death – what life-giving words will you use today?  Life or Death – which will you be dishing out today?

And, just like your momma always said, “If you can’t find anything . . . to say that brings life . . . then DON’T say anything at all.”  I’m pretty sure she got that from Proverbs.  Maybe from 17:28 – “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”    So, consider this the next time you open your mouth to speak words with the power of death – if you close your mouth before speaking it just might be a win-win for you and your listener alike.  You might avoid proving yourself foolish, and your intended audience might be spared a deathly blow.  And, if you do spit out those deathly words that are fighting to get out . . . does anyone win?  Other verses also remind us of the importance of listening and how it leads to wisdom:

18:13 – He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.

 

19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise

Today’s chapters also repeatedly speak of the wisdom of overlooking an offense, or on the flip side, the foolishness of quarrelling.  Do you more often find yourself holding onto a grudge or forgiving and moving on?   Do you find your feelings easily hurt and hold it against others?  Are you quick to start a quarrel, or let the moment pass in peace?

17:9 – He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

17:14 – Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

17:19 – He who loves a quarrel loves sin.

I think we could all benefit by evaluating how well, or poorly, we do with 18:2: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”    Which do you find yourself more interested in – understanding others or speaking your mind?  One little note on covering offenses – I am sure this is not referring to ignoring immoral sins.  We know that unrepentant sin leads to death and it is not loving to ignore that.  Galatians 6:1 has some wise advice in that case, as well as Proverbs 28:23 and Matthew 18.  No doubt, it takes much wisdom to know how to proceed in various situations.  Good thing God gives wisdom (James 1:5) and thank goodness we have the book of Proverbs to help us grow our wisdom.
A few more Proverbs that are just too good to not mention briefly . . .

On Zeal – typically considered a good thing – however . . .  “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (19:2)  Can you think of a project you may have jumped into . . . and then realized you should have done more “homework” first?   What about those facebook posts we have all seen where a very zealous person is on a rampage because of the latest outrage . . . only to have a friend point out the errors in their information (thank you, snopes).  Very zealous, but not very helpful without the true knowledge – and God’s Word is even more reliable than snopes.

On Disciplining Children/Youth – “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (19:18).   No one likes to be  disciplined – and the parent doing the discipline isn’t too thrilled either.  However, discipline sure beats death.  As a parent I need to remember that I do NOT make their life better by being their best friend and making things easy for both of us.  I make their life better by firmly and lovingly teaching rules, consequences, boundaries, how to listen and follow directions.  By teaching our children how to obey their parents we are also teaching them how to obey God and that is the most important lesson, that leads to life not death.  So teens out there reading, next time you are disciplined by your parents, surprise them – give them a giant hug and a great big thank you for saving you from death.  Then, watch them faint!

What would our relationships and family look like if we lived out all of these wonderful Proverbs everyday?  Keep praying for wisdom and working at the lessons learned in Proverbs.  They bring life – and who couldn’t use more of that.

Marcia Railton

 

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