As a kid of 4 I was held spellbound by the dancing flames of a crackling fire in the kitchen wood stove. With paper in hand I would tease the monster… paper in, paper out, paper… whoooof ! Followed by a squeal of delight as the paper caught fire.

Kids love to play with fire!

But one day, my mum had sent me to the kitchen with a whole lot of newspapers. Mum would have freaked out had she known why her little helper was so eager to dispatch the old papers for her.

The game began. Paper in, paper out, …

But as I withdraw the large newspaper just one too many times, it exploded into flame and expanded as the pages unraveled. I couldn’t get it back into the stove opening. I stood there for an instant, panicked. I threw it into the bin where it should have been put in the first place.

The fire ignited the rest of the bin’s contents. Oh boy, I knew I was in trouble. Not for an instant was I going to call out to my mum for help… then she would know I did this…right? So what to do?

I thought I would cover it up with the rest of the newspapers at my feet. Hey, I was only 4.

But with the new fuel source added, flames leapt up and caught the kitchen curtains. So now what do I do?


My mum raced in and saved the day… just. The curtains were lost and the kitchen was quite scorched, as were my ears after the initial hug.

I was only 4. But how often do we see this scenario played out in the lives of adults?

Most strife starts out as as a small thing and quickly gets out of control.

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
James 3:5

That dispute with a neighbour… court case! An unresolved argument with a friend or relative… estranged! A difference of opinion with a work colleague or boss… sacked!  That stubborn disagreement over some trivial thing with the spouse… divorce!

We all know when we are out of our depth. But we still push on… just adding fuel. Invariably we wait far too long before we call out for help.

For many, it’s like calling the fire brigade after the house has burnt down.

Swallowing pride is far better than the consequences of not calling out for help.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:13

Stop it! Stop playing with fire. And if it is too late and getting out of control, go get help early.