Ever since Man’s earliest origins, he has found fire to be both a tremendous friend and foe. It can provide such amenities as a source of heat, light, and the preparation of food, but also has the potential of great destruction.
In the natural realm, the prevention and suppression of uncontrolled fire has been a public service for centuries to which the saving of many lives and property can be attributed.
Christians are called to the same type of service in the spiritual realm. The “fire” that they are to contend with is not the same type of fire that fire-fighters encounter in the natural realm, but can be just as destructive to the lives of many, many people.
I am, of course, referring to the “fire” of destruction that is set aflame by the tongue, sad to say, that can be found among many who claim to Christians. Ironically, this fire is just as destructive to the one who ignites it as it is to the ones who are destroyed in the process.
“The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (James 3: 5, 6 NIV).”
We are all familiar with the parlor game in which the first person makes a brief statement, but only once, to the next person. Each person, in turn, repeats the “story” to the next person. When all have participated, the last recipients of the story, repeats the story aloud to the group. It is amazing how the “same” story changed in the process. Although this is a harmless game, it does demonstrate how the facts change as the story is repeated, often times getting “juicier” as it goes along. It real life, each hearer usually adds a little more to what was initially said until the “fire” is raging out of control.
Many Christians are deceived and take the position that as long as what they repeat is true, it is not the sin of gossip. However, if a “true” story is being repeated in order to influence the hearer to have a negative opinion of those being spoken about, it is still gossip. Often times, bad mouthing someone is for the purpose of elevating or seeking the approval or support of self in opposition to someone else.
The only exception to this rule is when someone in a position of authority is addressing the negative actions of others. Even then it is to be handled in privately with the details disclosed on a need to know basis.
The sin of gossip is called an act of wickedness and is a manifestation of the old sin nature (Romans 1: 29). This verse notes both slanderers AND gossips, affirming that there is a difference between the two sins. One involves the repeating of a false story, the other involves the repeating of a true story, but with the wrong motivation.
Slander and libel are based on the falseness of what is being repeated, whereas gossip is determined by the motivation of the speaker.
Reporting true facts about God’s family members is a frequent function of Satan, “…For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night…(Rev. 12:10 NIV).” The devil appreciates the assistance of God’s people!
The “old saying” that unless we have something good to say about someone, it is best to say nothing at all is not just good advice, it is a principle of Scripture (Romans 14: 19/Eccl.3: 7).
Like fire fighting in the natural realm, fire fighting in the spiritual realm involves containment so that it spreads no further and extinguishing it at the source.
It takes brave fire fighters to enter a burning building to fight a fire. They choose to place themselves at risk of personal harm. Unlike the fire fighters who are hailed as heroes, the Christian fire fighter risks rejection for his disinterest in gossip.
The sins of the tongue expose (Matt.15: 18) the shortcomings of the both the speaker and the listener.
In order for the sins of the tongue to be manifested, it takes at least two persons. One must willingly speak and at least one more must willingly listen.
How will you respond to the next alarm of “fire”?
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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