I'm a tornado and hurricane kind of guy. I mean I don't like them but, I've lived where you learn about those things. I'm not an earthquake kind of guy, I've never lived where those mattered much. But when I was in San Francisco recently, I was where earthquakes are a big deal! Most people there still have dramatic stories to tell about what happened during that big quake in 1989, the one that interrupted the third game of the World Series. Some of the heaviest damage and injury was in the Marina District of San Francisco. We went there to tape part of a radio program, in fact, we were right on the corner of Beach Street and Divisadero where several buildings collapsed or burned, including one that had been totally consumed by fire. One of the neighbors described the scene for us, one very different from this quiet neighborhood with beautiful rebuilt homes. The night of the quake it was total chaos. This neighbor described that awful fire with the unbearable heat that had destroyed the building on the other corner. He said, "The fire started out with a gas leak - it was very small. If I could have gotten over there, I literally could have put it out with a bucket of water. But then it started to spread and pretty soon there was no way to stop it."
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Bucket of Water, Or a Three-Alarm Fire."
God believes in fighting fires when they're small, when you can still put them out with a bucket of water. He talks about it in Ephesians 4:26-27, our word for today from the Word of God, and some of the most insightful verses in the Bible for preserving relationships. Here's what God says, "In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." Could it be that you have let a fire smolder in some relationship in your life? Let it go, let it grow and you will have a blaze on your hands that you cannot control.
Maybe there is strained relationship in your life right now, between you and your mate, or you and a child, you and a co-worker, you and a spiritual brother or sister. It could be there is trouble in your marriage and so often it is the man who is the last to admit there's anything wrong. Men tend to be postponers when it comes to dealing with relationship difficulties. But the fire isn't going to stay the same size. Relationships of all kinds burn down when someone lets the small fire just go, until it becomes an uncontrollable inferno that can do so much damage.
In fact, the Bible says that when you let conflict or strain or anger go longer than a day, you literally give the devil himself a place to get into your relationship. Four verses later, in Ephesians 4:31, God lists the kind of ugly things that come from letting relationships fire go unaddressed. "All bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, every form of malice." Maybe you can see some of those flames right there growing in a relationship of yours.
Don't wait another day to do something about the fire. It's as small now as it will ever be. Gently confront what you have to confront, forgive what you have to forgive, apologize for what you have to apologize for, and overlook what you have to overlook, but deal with whatever is between you.
The devil is ready to pour gasoline on that fire so everyone involved will get burned. You need to come running with whatever water it will take to put it out now. A bucket of water now is a lot better than a three-alarm fire later.