James 3:7-8 – For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (KJV)
In an old forest, the competition for growing space can be very severe. The large canopies of the big trees blot out the sunlight, so very little vegetation may be found on the forest floor. It is usually very easy to walk through an old forest once one gets through the first few feet along the road or stream. Periodically, it is necessary to clear-cut sections to get new vegetation to grow. Nature accomplishes this through lightning and fire.
The forest in northwest Pennsylvania was once covered pretty exclusively with hemlock. When many of the trees were cut to service the tanning industry, the hardwoods began to grow in the empty spaces. These hardwoods now serve as a vital part of the forest industry in this region. Although the competition for growing space is severe, many species of ferns are found growing on the forest floor, producing something that resembles a carpet. Many of these ferns thrive by putting out a toxin so that other species do not grow in their space.
From time to time, many of us resemble these ferns. We poison the ground around us with careless words and actions. Many reputations have been ruined this way, and churches have been literally destroyed. Among the young, there have been many suicides over careless words, either through conversations or via the World Wide Web. We must continually be vigilant lest we become as these ferns. And we must continually clear-cut unkind and damaging thoughts so that the good stuff can grow.
Prayer: Father, may we, each day, ask for Your strength so that we may become a blessing to others rather than a toxin. Amen.