(excerpt from Morning Meditations by Martin Wiles)
Proverbs 26:20 Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. (NLT)
I grew up watching my father use it for many tasks. It was normal, and he was probably repeating what he had learned from his father.
Paint on your hands? A small amount will remove it. No matter that you will be left with a stronger smell. Need to clean paint brushes? It works for that too. How Ďbout lighting the charcoal to grill burgers. Douse the briquettes with a little and you will have a roaring blaze in seconds. And what about those pesky fire ants? A cup full per mound and theyíre gone.
If you havenít figured it out yet, Iím referring to gasoline. Years ago it was inexpensive. Now hovering around four dollars a gallon and environmentalists warning against ground pollution, most of us have changed our old ways. So I use lighter fluid when grilling and environmentally friendly cleaners for polishing my dirty hands.
Still there are moments when Iím tempted to revert. When the charcoal takes too long to get hot. Or when I have to use twice as much expensive hand cleaner. Or when the fire ant killer doesnít do the job. Old habits die hard.
Fires will go out if not continually fed flammable materials. Coals will cool if not assembled closely together. And quarrels and disagreements will dematerialize when gossip stops.
Iíve been known to justify statements because theyíre true. After all, if itís true, it canít be gossip. A more admirable consideration is whether theyíre necessary. A neighbor is having a difficult time with her son. So I take the opportunity to tell everyone I encounter she needs prayer, but I also include the list of why. I want my fellow pray-ers to be able to intercede more intelligently-or so I tell myself.
Gossip doesnít have to be false to be gossip. It can simply be information thatís better left unsaid. Tidbits that will fuel the fire making a situation worse instead of better. Silence is sometimes more appropriate than suggestions. Learn to carefully consider whether what you say is helpful or fuels a fire.
Prayer: Lord, help us choose our words carefully so weíll not fuel a fire that needs extinguishing.
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