Like a beast that has no conscience, it is within the nature of sinful man to attack, wound and maim another he judges to be his adversary. We are no longer shocked when news headlines carry details of the carnage perpetrated by Islamic fanatics in Iraq or the tragedy of a vengeful act carried out by a teen that turns to violence to avenge rejection.
The same vengeful, angry spirit that drives a man to kill is at the root of one’s tongue when it is used to hurt, slander and destroy the reputation of another. James describes man’s tongue as “a little member…a fire, a world of iniquity…an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-8).
Solomon suppresses no words in warning his son concerning the carnage caused by a talebearer, gossip and slanderer.
Proverbs 26:20-22 – “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer [whisper; slanderer; murmurer; backbiter], the strife [contention; discord] ceaseth [quiets; calm; subsides; silent]. 21 As coals [i.e. black coals] are to burning coals [red hot coals], and wood to fire; so is a contentious man [brawling; strife provoking; quarreling] to kindle [incite; burn] strife [controversy; contest; dispute; quarrel]. 22 The words [spoken or written words] of a talebearer [whisperer; slanderer; murmurer] are as wounds [lit. swallowed greedily], and they go down into the innermost [most private parts; place of solitude] of the belly [innermost womb of a man’s being].”
Once again we realize the “uncommon common sense” of Solomon’s proverbs as he states what should be universally known…You have to feed a fire to keep it burning!
Using that analogy, Solomon exposes a reality that is too often in evidence in our homes, friendships and churches—Strife, quarrels and ill-spoken words wound, erode and ultimately destroy the strongest bonds of love and friendships.
Too many Christians entertain “prayer requests” that are nothing less than gossip cloaked in a veil of piety. Others, under the guise of seeking counsel, go to someone willing to listen rather than going to the person with whom they have a conflict. The result of this wickedness is decaying friendships, disheartened Christians and church splits. Yes, the wounds of a gossip bruise to the depths of one’s soul.
I close today’s devotion with a word of clarity from James:
James 1:26 – “If any man among you seem to be religious [pious; spiritual], and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart [self-deluded], this man’s religion is vain [worthless; a sham].”
Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith