The "Queen City" of Chicago was already a big city in 1871 with more than 334,000 residents. On October 8, 1871 a spark ignited a fire in the O'Leary barn which would place the city on fire! The 57 miles of wooden paved streets, 561 miles of wooden sidewalks and even wooden bridges acted as a fuse throughout the city for the fire to travel which consumed 17,500 buildings and destroyed 300 lives while leaving 100,000 homeless. The fire blazed throughout Chicago Sunday night, Monday and even until Tuesday morning until it was eventually quenched by rain. Ironically the O'Leary's cottage which set just in front of the barn wasn't touched by the destruction.
James 3:5 "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" The tongue is a little member with destructive potential! James compares the tongue to a spark which could destroy acres of forest.
Destruction: Fire doesn't just create a small, negative force, but fire actually destroys! So do words! "But he who repeats a matter separates friends" ~ Proverbs 17:9. No friendship is so strong gossip will not destroy it! If friends can't endure it, think of the devastation it is to acquaintances, co-workers and strangers. A few lines of gossip, remarks of painful humor and the fire is set to destroy relationships!
Fire Demands Fuel: "Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases" ~ Proverbs 26:20. The tongue fuels fights. But, the tongue can also extinguish heated situations. "A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness" ~ Proverbs 15:1-2. Let's be wise! How often have individuals cried as a house was burning to the ground. They wish they could rewind time to remember to shut off the heater or not spill the grease, but once the fire started potraits, locks of baby hair, wedding bands, and so many things which can't be replaced are burned! Words can't be called back, instead they seem to take on a destructive life of their own as they destroy! I wonder how many misuse the tongue and estimate no damage while in reality a Chicago fire is at blaze?