July 9, 2013
Put a Lid on It
“… 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,” (James 3:5 NIV).
Friend to Friend
From the time I could hold a crayon in my chubby little hand, I’ve enjoyed creating various works of art. For my family and friends, my annual endeavors usually found their way under the Christmas tree and into their hands. One year it was macramé hanging plant holders, woven with wooden beads. Another, it was a menagerie of decoupage wooden boxes. Then there were the years of framed cross-stitch, ceramic Nativity sets, and quilted pig and chicken pillows.
When I was 17, it was the year of the candle. Everyone from Grandma Edwards to my best girlfriends received praying hands candles. For weeks I slaved over a hot stove, stirring melted wax, meticulously centering the ten-inch wicks, and then slowly pouring the red, green, or yellow molten material into an inverted mold in the shape of praying hands. When the wax hardened, I burped the rubber mold and plopped the hands onto the counter. My kitchen looked like a prostheses laboratory with hands littering the counters.
I was just cooking up my last batch of wax when the doorbell rang. I was having so much fun that I had forgotten the time. I had a date at 7:30, and here I was in pink curlers and a paraffin-covered sweatshirt. I rushed through the kitchen, leaped over my dad, who had fallen asleep on the den floor in front of the television, and threw open the door.
“Hi, Jim. Come on in,” I said, out of breath. “I’m not ready.”
“So I noticed,” he said with a grin.
“I was cooking candles and lost track of time.”
“You were what?”
“Oh, never mind. Just come on in and have a seat on the couch. I’ll be ready in a minute.”
I dashed to my room to change clothes, take out the curlers and run a brush through my hair, swipe mascara through my lashes, and place a hint of gloss on my lips. Jim sat uncomfortably on the sofa, listening to my dad snore and Jackie Gleason yell at Ralph Kramden.
After about 15 minutes Jim smelled something burning from the kitchen. He didn’t want to call me for fear of waking up my dad. (Teenage boys don’t like to wake up their date’s dad if they can help it.) Instead, he tiptoed into the kitchen and discovered a pot on the stove with flames shooting up about 18 inches in the air.
Sleeping dad or no sleeping dad, Jim yelled, “Sharon! Whatever you were cooking is on fire!”
“Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed. “I forgot to turn off the stove!”
Just as I burst into the kitchen, Jim threw a cup of water into the flaming wax. Rather than extinguish the flames, the fire exploded upward. The flames shot up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other side of the room. Our screams alerted my father, who woke to see his baby girl standing in a room surrounded by flames. With the agility of Superman, Dad sprang to his feet, ran to the kitchen faster than a speeding bullet, grabbed the lid of the pot, and clamped it down on the source of the flames. Just as quickly as the fire had erupted, it seemed to recede back into the pot like a genie returning to his bottle.
This all happened in a matter of seconds. We stood in the middle of the room like three stunned deer. I never did tell my dad that it was Jim who threw the water on the burning wax. Teenage boys have two strikes against them just by walking through the doors to pick up a man’s baby girl.
After the shock of the incident wore off, I had time to reflect on the speed at which the flames blazed around the room, the feeling of fire licking against my skin, the terrifying sound the fire made. It made me think about my words and how easily they can explode and singe those around me. I saw and understood the destructive power of our words and the speed at which that destruction can spread. But you know what else I learned? I learned just how easy it is to stop the blaze…put a lid on it. As soon as my father placed a lid on the pot and removed the flames’ source of oxygen, the fire went out.
And so it is with our words. God gave us two ears and one mouth. Therefore, we need to spend more time listening and less time talking. And when we get ready to speak those words that have the potential to start a fire…what do we need to do? Put a lid on it. That’s right. Zip the lip.
Dear Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. May nothing escape my mouth today that is not pleasing to You.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Read James 3:1-18 and note what the writer teaches us about the tongue.
What affect does a rudder have on a ship?
What affect does a bridle have on a horse?
What affect does a spark have on a forest?
What affect do your words have on those in your sphere of influence?
Here’s an idea. Get a pot lid and place it on the kitchen counter as a reminder to “put a lid” on any destructive words that might try to slip past those pretty lips of your today.
Just for fun, send me a picture of you pot lid on the counter and I’ll post it! Or if you’re not tech savvy with posting pics, simply send me a note that you did it. Leave a comment on my blog page at www.sharonjaynes.com
More from the Girlfriends
If you’d like to learn more about how to control your tongue, check out my book, The Power of a Woman’s Words. It is a life changer! And if you are looking for a new Bible study for your women’s group, this one has been a big hit in churches everywhere. It also has an accompanying Bible study guide and a DVD. You can find both on my website.
Originally published Tuesday, 09 July 2013.