A pyromaniac is a person who continually fails to resist the temptation to start fires, often as a sort of method to relieve tension or for instant gratification. Pyromania (the term for the condition) is an impulse control disorder. What should we call those whose tongues (or keyboard strokes) cause firestorms of angst, hatred, fear, sorrow, etcetera?
As Christians, perhaps one of the biggest acts of serving love we can do in these days is to be firefighters. This is not about “fake news”, “doctored news”, “spin”, or any other term being flung about these days to discredit those perceived to be from the so-called opposition.
It wasn’t that long ago that the entire West Coast of the US was blanketed with smoke from many wildland fires. Millions of acres burned. Some categorize the amount of acreage burned as record-breaking. If we were to estimate the number of firefighters working to knock out the fires at 350 thousand (which is probably a quite high estimate), that would be around 1/10 of 1% (0.001) of the US population.
Why do those numbers matter? A relatively small proportion of the US population put out so many fires over a large amount of acreage. That’s the way we should be.
In the context of the church, fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and a purifier/cleanser. However, the other side of fire is utter destruction. A purifying fire can be good, however, the church (and society, and history, and the world) has had too many instances when a purifying fire becomes corrupted, and all it does is destroy.
There are far too many people like those in Proverbs 16:28 who seek to sow discord and conflict, and others who spread gossip to tear down their intellectual opponents. The Scriptures certainly do not celebrate such individuals. Nor should we.
Gossip and conflict-starting put oneself above others. When we look to ourselves and not others, there is a huge potential to sow hatred and derision rather than the love of Christ. When we speak in love and with the intent to build others up, the fire-starting tongue becomes a blesser rather than a curser.
1) Where are you seeing Christian brothers and sisters being unholy fire-starters and spreaders, rather than holy firefighters?
2) What are some ways and words that you can use to help quench the unholy fires of words that are shared around you?
3) What, if any, experiences have you had where what was (or was intended to be) a purifying fire turned into a destructive one?
Holy Spirit, we ask you to light us up as beacons of your grace and love. Guide us to be the ones that share holy fire and extinguish unholy fire. Amen.