Each year my heart breaks as I hear and read about the stories of lives disrupted and sometimes lost because of the various wildfires throughout the country. This year Texas has been hit unusually hard because of the abnormally dry conditions and high winds. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned. Houses and businesses have been destroyed. And lives have been lost.
I was reading the other day about a wildfire in the Austin area. Over 400 acres burned because a homeless man was cold. He started a fire, and the wind picked up. It wasn’t long before the fire raged through the countryside and the homeless man was dead – consumed by smoke and lost in the blaze.
There was a song I used to sing in youth group when I was a teenager. The beginning of the song goes like this: “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…”
That’s totally true. If you watch “Survivor” or “Man vs. Wild” or any such shows, you know that fire is necessary to life, and a simple spark can turn into something wonderful – meant to keep you warm and provide a source for cooking necessary nourishment. A fire can be such a blessing – or it can be a curse.
Fires are started all over the world each day in the minds of people, and the sparks used to start these fires are words. We use our words to bless, and we use our words to curse, and in the process fires start. Some of those fires are movements that bless millions of people, but some are disgruntled spirits that take down entire healthy movements.
We do this all the time. When we grumble about something we start the spark. Many times we grumble to someone uninvolved, and they jump on our bandwagon. Then the fire is going. Soon there are whole groups of people grumpy about whatever it was you were grumbling about. All these grumpy people are doing, however, is talking around the source of that frustration. So many times we complain to others, but we don’t go to the source to try to make a change.
So many people are disgruntled about the school system in town or the way some aspect of the city is being run, but they refuse to go talk to the school board in a healthy way or contact their city leaders to get things changed. They start a wildfire of disgruntled-ness. And nothing gets fixed.
We do the same thing in churches. I have seen people sit through church services on Sunday morning then go have fried preacher for lunch. This starts a movement that eventually gets the preacher fired – or worse, splits the church. Then the preacher is at a loss for understanding because no one cared enough to go to him for a solution.
Paul warns Titus “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.” This seems like a pretty serious offense.
If we want to help quench these fires, then we need to do what Jesus commands. He says that when you know someone has something against you (or even when you have something against them), you need to go directly to that person and try to get it sorted out. You may not be able to come to an agreement, but at least you both have the opportunity to be like Christ to each other. Forgiveness plays a healthy role here has well.
So, you have a choice: Be the spark of negativity that tears down, or be the spark of blessing that builds up. I know which one Jesus wants you to be. Now it’s time for self-reflection to see which one you really are.
May you examine your mind to truly see your perspective, and may you become the person who starts a fire of good in the lives of others.
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