Thursday, October 17, 2013

Proverbs 26:18-28 Don't stoke the fire!

The last half of this chapter of Proverbs is devoted to the devastation done by gossipers and liars. Now, it seems to me that this is such a universal problem which plagues all of us, since we know that our hearts are the source of our words, and our hearts, according to Jeremiah 17:9 are filled with deceit:

The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;

    who can understand it?

So, having acknowledged that we can’t point the finger at another without directing it right back at ourselves, let’s look at the strong condemnation gossip receives here in Proverbs:

For lack of wood the fire goes out,

    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.  
As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,

    so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.  
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;

    they go down into the inner parts of the body.  
Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel

    are fervent lips with an evil heart. 
Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips

    and harbors deceit in his heart; 
when he speaks graciously, believe him not,

    for there are seven abominations in his heart;  
though his hatred be covered with deception,

    his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 
Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,

    and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. 
A lying tongue hates its victims,

    and a flattering mouth works ruin. 

What strikes me first is that the antidote to spreading gossip is right there in the first verse: if we don’t add wood to the fire, it will go out! When we pass it on, we are “kindling strife.” The problem with gossip is that it truly does encourage strife between people. If we would not stoke that fire by listening and then whispering it forward, we could help bring peace.

Note how gossip is whispered. Generally we don’t shout it from the housetops, because we inherently understand that it is evil, so we keep it low. We share it behind hands or behind closed doors. What we whisper becomes part of the one who hears it. Verse 22 says gossip is like “delicious morsels” that actually are digested in our “inner parts.” Once spoken the damage begins, and we can’t take it back. 

The gossiping heart is not motivated by love. It “harbors deceit... abominations ... hatred.” “The lying tongue hates its victim.” And here is the scary part for us when we participate:

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,

    and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. (vs. 27)

And the problem with Christians is that we so easily justify gossip as concern! I find this such a challenging passage! The condemnation is as clear as day! We cannot get around this problem with our tongues. James devoted much of his letter to this issue. It IS a problem - not just in the world, but within the church. Can we admit that? Can we admit that we almost daily participate in it? The Bible has promised us that we are new creations in Christ Jesus and that we no longer live under condemnation. We have available to us the power of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. Surely He can deliver us from our own tongues. But we first have to admit we have a problem. 

What is the solution? The Bible tells us that we need to be transformed from within:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

When we intentionally set our minds on the things of God by reading His Word consistently, we WILL be transformed. God’s Word will do its work in us. These Proverbs have been in-your-face confrontation to me, because there is so much repetition, you can’t miss His messages. And once we have looked into that mirror, we just can’t turn and walk away and do nothing about the condition of our hearts. These passages demand repentance!

LORD, search our hearts and reveal to us the areas that need purifying! Thank you that we are new creations in Christ and do not have to be slaves to our old selves. Help us to turn away from whispers and deceit. May we never be the ones who add wood to the fire, but instead may we be the peacemakers you called us to be! Help us use our mouths to build up the body!  

No comments:

Post a Comment