Read James 3:5-6
5-6 A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. (THE MESSAGE)
John Farynor was a baker in London in the 17th century. One night, after a long working day, we went off to bed. In his tiredness he forgot to completely extinguish a small flame in one of his ovens. By the next morning, the Great Fire of London had broken out leading to the destruction of many homes and significant loss of life.
Big events can have small beginnings. James applies this to our speech. Much help we receive comes in the form of words. Much hurt we experience also comes in the form of words—and sometimes the same person utters both types of words. Our speech is a barometer of our hearts and our hearts are too often twisted out of shape by fear or envy or frustration.
If we say an unkind word we may apologise for it afterwards. But it can never be unsaid, so it is better to control our speech in the first place. Those who ‘boast’ of speaking their mind ought instead to repent! Being truthful is not the same as saying just what we happen to be thinking.
Words can wound and words can heal. To demonstrate that, have a look at the oratory of Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King. Magnetic speech-making, clever use of words, but so very different in impact because they came from very different hearts.