Some churches die suddenly because of disagreements, immoral behavior, and financial ruin. It is a tragedy when God’s bride falls victim to sin, arrogance and pride. What should have been a beacon of light to those still wandering in the darkness without hope has become a victim of the father of lies and to sin. It truly is a tragedy!
There is another kind of death in the church. It is a slow agonizing death, the kind that begins with seemingly harmless words, behind the back comments, and half truths that go unchecked or verified. The idle, never edifying chatter of assumptions and sometimes made up notions. It is a coward’s conversation because very rarely do those suggestions fall directly on the ears of its intended target.
On the topic of gossip and the tongue:
“…Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.…” -James 3:4-6
I have been both a victim and at times a proprietor of this deadly vice. When this harmful drug of choice enters the church it (sometimes it has already been in your church for years and years) can lay waste to integrity, honesty and even our moral compasses. How damaging and hurtful gossip, slander and biting words can be to fellow believers in Christ. Brothers and sisters, we ought to know better yet why do we allow this sort of thing to continue? Why allow it to remain? I have been deeply wounded at times because of the words of other Christians…and dare I confess, a time or two I wished I could have withdrawn the words that flew swiftly from my tongue and past my lips before I could catch them.
How devastating such a small thing can truly be.
Is there a cure? Some sort of remedy? Can we stave off this infection before it consumes and kills us? Gossip slander, and malice WILL kill the Church slowly, agonizingly yet just as deadly as the instant immoral failings. This cancer of the verbal kind can be treated…it can be stalled, maybe even cured.
Here are a few verses to remind us of this remedy –
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
“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.” Proverbs 26:20-22
Don’t allow these embers to burn. Don’t linger in the company of those who wag their tongues and scorch the earth with their words. Such thinking and speaking are never edifying to the body of Christ and with it the church will die a slow death. Think on the edifying things. Remain true to our calling. Do not become bogged down by the negative thoughts and words in regards to others. Be a source of hope, light, goodness and grace to fellow believers as well as those who have yet to believe. We ARE the body of Christ…so start acting like it.
I have been equally guilty of this slow death…have you?
Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive us when we have failed you and fallen victim to the trappings of a loose and slanderous tongue. Forgive us when we have hurt You and those You have created in Your image through gossip and thoughtless words. Guide us on the pathway of right living and right thinking so that we can be a more effective source of Godly love to the world around us. Help us to serve You through our thoughts, words and deeds. Restore us, renew us and make us Holy. -Amen.
Something else for us to ponder today…