The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person. (James 3:6)

WE KNEW THERE WAS TROUBLE when hundreds of bricks emerged from the kiln with copper spots. These discolorations occur when tiny pieces of metal smelt within the ceramic body during firing. It’s a common defect, but this level of contamination was unprecedented.

We later discovered that an old tractor radiator had gotten scooped into the crusher with a load of clay. It should have triggered a magnetic sensor and halted the feed line, but the sensor wasn’t working—and hadn’t been for months. The problem went undetected because workers weren’t performing routine equipment inspections.

It was a quarter-million-dollar lesson in preventative maintenance, one I think James would definitely appreciate. Words, after all, have something in common with copper spots: they expose hidden contaminants. The tongue is a “world of evil” because it gives expression to the perverse, selfish, and destructive thoughts that corrupt our inward character. If we pay attention to our language and the things we like to discuss, we might discover some unholy preoccupations that need to be purged from our hearts.

Fortunately, we have a Helper. By regularly immersing ourselves in the mind-renewing power of God’s Word, the Spirit keeps our spiritual sensors running at peak performance. This “preventative maintenance” helps us detect and repent of sinful thoughts and attitudes before they find expression in unholy speech—or worse.

Ask God to reveal one attitude He wants to purge from you.

Johnathan Kana lives with his wife and two children in rural central Texas. When he’s not writing, he enjoys playing piano and composing music.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.