To extinguish a fire, you must remove one of the essential elements needed for combustion. For example, eliminating what is fueling the blaze is a method often employed in fighting a forest fire. A controlled backfire is started from a cleared line ahead of the advancing flames. When the two fires meet, no timber is left to burn.
The Bible tells us that for lack of wood “the fire goes out” (Prov. 26:20). This refers to extinguishing something much more devastating than the combustion of physical elements. It’s the fire of an irresponsible tongue and the resentment and pain that burn in the hearts of those who have been seared by its heat. What deep and lasting wounds the tongue can inflict on others! Families and friendships have been disrupted and individuals hurt for life because of the effects of backbiting and slander.
How necessary it is for God’s people to eliminate from their conversation all thoughtless words! This would prevent many of the fires that ruin relationships.
By yielding our tongue to the Lord Jesus, who alone can control it, we can put out the harmful fires of slander and gossip.
How many fires have swept the land
And left an ugly scar!
But of the blazing flames that burn,
The tongue's the worst by far. —Anon.
Better to bite your tongue than to have a biting tongue.