A Bucket or A Log

Peyton Johnston

March 4th, 2018

James 3:5-18

Imagine this:
You’re hanging out at a coffee shop with a group of friends. You’re enjoying your caramel latte and good conversation when out of nowhere, a fire ignites. It’s just a small spark at first. It’s barely noticeable. Almost harmless, even. But you can quickly see the flames begin to rise. And though you recognize the approaching danger, somehow everyone else seems totally oblivious. You know that if no one takes action, the fire will destroy everything. So you jump out of your seat and turn to grab something – ​anything ​- that could possibly put out the fire and save your friends. Strangely, there are only two things in sight: a bucket full of water and a pile of logs.

Which do you choose to pick up? The water from the bucket would extinguish the flame and prevent the catastrophe. The logs would feed the flames. So the obvious answer is the bucket, right?

The Bible says that if we are not careful, our words can be like a blazing fire – a destructive force that wounds everything it touches. Putting others down, gossiping, bragging, manipulation, false teaching, exaggeration, complaining, and lying are all fire-starters that can easily creep into casual conversation if we do not keep our flesh in check. It may seem harmless at first to be involved in a negative discussion. But eventually it will grow into something unruly and unholy that destroys the speaker and the hearer. Just like a fire can burn a building beyond restoration, so can a few negative words leave lasting scars on someone that can never be mended.

Not only is it our responsibility to prevent a fire from forming, but it is also our responsibility to put it out if someone else starts one. Sometimes a friend may not realize the danger of what they’re saying, while others may not have enough courage to be the one to change the topic. We need to recognize the severity of a negative word and find the boldness to stand up for what is right.

So the next time you hear one of your friends start to talk about something that could set ablaze… Will you grab a bucket or a log? Will you stop the conversation from getting out of hand, or will you join in? Will you save you and your friends from the fire, or let the flames run wild around you?

Pray: ​“God, help me and my friends to always think on and speak of things that You would approve of – things that encourage and uplift. And if I’m ever in a situation that involves an unkind conversation, help me to have the boldness to steer the topic in a better direction.”