We’ve probably all sat around a campfire at one time or another in our lives. I have vivid memories at Bible camp, when camping with the family, and even sitting in the backyard hovered over someone’s raging fire pit. I can almost smell the smokey aroma left in my clothes. And who could forget the s’mores!? But when the wood is gone, so is the fire.
I liked verse 20 today because it conjured up these campfire memories, singing songs, and relaxing in nature under the stars. We read, “Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” This isn’t the first time we’ve been cautioned against gossip or telling of tales. Remember that gossip is telling negative information (tales) about someone to either hurt them or impress a hearer with the news. It does not matter whether the information is true.
We’ve all been involved in gossip of some kind. We like to share news. But when it is hurtful, possibly not even true, or meant to cause an emotional reaction in the one hearing it, we should avoid telling that kind of news.
Gossip is never a good idea. It goes back to the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” When we take a look at what causes arguments, we’ll probably find a misunderstanding or disappointment due to gossip of some kind. People who thrive on conflict will do all they can to keep it alive. Remember God knows the heart.
Gossip or telling tales is hurtful. It can cause deep wounds that can never be repaired. Trust will be broken, and friendships will end. Do you find it hard to guard your tongue? When you hear a bit of “juicy” news, what do you instinctively do? Do you want to go tell someone else, or do you tell the one sharing the news to keep quiet, to stop spreading such things?
Take a moment to think about some of the conversations you’ve had recently. Were you speaking of only yourselves and what is happening in your life? Or, did someone else’s business get mentioned? Where do we draw the line? It’s safer not to even mention other people in conversation. I, for one, do mention other people, particularly our children. Because we live so far away from family, I’m often the news bearer to keep everyone informed. But, I have often “spilled the beans” and told one of the kids something about the other one that they wanted to be the one share about. Sometimes you just can’t win. It wasn’t “hurtful” news at least!
Perhaps we can ask for permission. Something simple like, “Can I share this news with the family, or did you want to?” I like the counsel of Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Let’s pray. Lord, help me to be mindful of what comes out of my mouth. May people know me for the love I show them. When I hear others telling tales, give me the courage to quiet them. Forgive me for times when I have said hurtful things and shared information that was not for me to share. Give me discernment to know the difference. In Jesus’ name. Amen.