Forest Fires

July 18, 2017 by Steve Browning

We need to remember the Master Architect’s vision for our homes…WISDOM, UNDERSTANDING and KNOWLEDGE. And this is the blueprint for the series we are in at The Worthy Walk titled, “Marriage Fixer Upper.” This post is a little off topic since the program is currently in the middle of a series on marriage. But I felt led to share this with anyone who might be interested. My wife (see how I was still able to steer this into something to do with marriage?) owns a cleaning company in our town. Yesterday, she received a nasty email from a client who was upset at the cleaning they had received. 

From what I can gather, the job was completed to 90% of what should have been expected for what they were paying for. At no time did the client contact the office to express dissatisfaction. The client asked for extra work to be performed that was not agreed on at the beginning but which was happily completed. The client mentioned several items not cleaned which were not asked to be cleaned at the beginning. While it is understood that the job was not completed to his or the company satisfaction, the venomous email was completely out of line. 

My first reaction when I read the email was disbelief. That quickly turned to anger. Why would the client refuse to pay for the work that was done? Only because he felt it wasn’t up to his satisfaction? And why would he not agree to have us come back and make it right? The cleaning tech told him she would return the following day and do whatever he needed, but he refused. He made no attempt to contact the office to express his frustration. He simply refused to pay for the work and instead decided to demean the company. I was very angry and expressed my opinion to my wife and the girl who did the cleaning. I may have said a few unkind things about the client…

I call myself a Christ Follower. What kind of person who makes that claim can justify the angry outburst I had toward a person I hadn’t even met?

James 3:5-6 says, “5 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 goes on to say, “10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. 

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” 

As I contemplated these wise words, I began to realize that I need to allow the Lord to continuously work on my own heart and my own attitude. I don’t know what this person had been going through. I don’t know what kind of day he had when he received a bill for work he considered sloppy. And I hadn’t spoken with him myself to see what might be done to rectify the issue. And even taking these considerations out of the equation, how can I show myself to be a professed follower of Christ when was so easily made angry by a situation I had no control over? 

Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge. I looked back over my notes from the radio program and the “blueprint” scripture stood out as I was examining my own heart. I contemplated both the verse from Proverbs and from James. Am I acting with wisdom, understanding and knowledge? Or are the words that came from my mouth like a spark that sets off a forest fire?   

The same can be said of our marriages. Have you spoken a harsh word to your spouse out of anger? Have you had a bad day and took it out on your wife or husband? How much tension in your household could be avoided if you stepped back and held your tongue? 

5 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!” Let’s all remember this wisdom from James, not only in our daily lives, but more importantly, in our relationships.

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