Watch Your Mouth

A lot of difficulty can be avoided if we just keep out mouths shut. Drama is created by communication. Some verbal, some nonverbal, but mostly verbal. Our grandkids can create drama in seconds, especially the girls. They start talking louder and louder and pretty soon one of them is crying or stomping off to the back bedroom with accusations flying left and right. You would think someone got murdered.

The tongue can be an evil thing because with it we bless God and curse our neighbor, who is made in the image of God. Out of the same fountain comes fresh and bitter water. The Bible talks about the tongue, that it is like a fire, more like a match. It’s very small but it can set a whole forest on fire. It is like the rudder of a ship, it is very small but it can turn a massive boat to go a completely different direction. It is like a bit in the horses mouth and although the bit is much smaller by comparison to the horse it can turn the large animal wherever the rider wants.

That’s the way the tongue is. The Proverbs say that death and life are in the power of the tongue. You can actually turn your life toward death with your tongue; we all have done that to a certain extent. We’ve said things that we regret because they started a fire that we couldn’t put out. We’ve damaged people that we didn’t want to damage. But, because we couldn’t keep our mouths shut a fire was set and some of them still burn to this day.

My wife and I moved to Tulsa Oklahoma along with our two children and one on the way so that I could go to school. The early 80’s had an economic downturn and the jobs migrated to the western and southern part of America. The oil industry was going strong and they were hiring people so a couple of my brothers moved out west with us to find employment.

My twin brother lived with us for about six weeks until he could get on his feet. He got a job and an apartment a few miles from the house that we had rented. He owned a 1972 Ford Econoline van that he used to move everything he owned to Oklahoma. We piled all his earthly possessions into his van to move them the few miles to his new place and headed down the road.

One of the problems with the van was the fuel gauge didn’t work and about half way there we ran out of gas. When we heard it sputter we knew immediately what was happening and he pulled it off the road as it quit running. Luckily we were only a few hundred yards from a gas station so we got the gas can, that he had brought from Ohio, out of the back and walked to the 7-11.

Everything my brother and I do together turns in to a sit-com. We laugh a lot and make jokes about almost everything. This was no exception. It was really funny and we made the most of it.

We got back to the van with our gallon of gas and dumped it in the tank. We tried to start it but it wouldn’t fire. We didn’t want to run the battery down so far that we had to get a jump…and that’s when I had a brilliant idea. I’d seen my dad pour a little gas in a carburetor to get a engine running and I knew there was a some gas left in the can.

I suggested that we take the inside cover off the motor and pour a little gas in the carb. Those vans had a motor cover on the inside that gave you access to the engine compartment. We took the cover and the breather off and I said that I would pour the gas in while he hit the starter. The van backfired through the carburetor which started the can on fire and without thinking, I chucked the burning can out the window.

It was the middle of Summer and on top of that, Oklahoma was in one of the worst draughts in recent decades. When that little blaze hit the prairie grass, it burst into flames. We jumped out of the van and tried to stomp it out with our feet but it had already grown to a inferno and was too big for our efforts. I had on some cheap tennis shoes and when I tried to remove them later I realized they had melted to my socks.

Fortunately someone across the street saw the whole thing and called the fire department which was only a few blocks away. Even though they got there in literally a couple of minutes we burned up a couple of acres of grass. For several months the black mark on the prairie was visible and every time we drove by it, I was reminded of the fire fiasco.

That’s the way it is with the tongue. You set something on fire and a lot of the time it’s accidental, or at least without malicious intent and it gets totally out of hand. As a result, a bunch of people get involved and the damage can be seen for a long time.

“You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth.” Proverbs 6:2


Photo by Kristina Flour on