The Issue Isn’t the Issue

James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 

James 4:1-2 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 

A husband and a wife get into a big bruhaha over how and where to spend the holidays. Each is convinced he or she is right and the other is outside his or her mind. The line is drawn in the sand, feet are firmly planted in his or her position, and it turns into a knockdown-drag-out fight.

Let me ask this, was the real problem for that couple where to spend the holidays? Was the “issue” over which that couple fought really the issue? Can you see that there is another problem that has nothing to do with where to go for Christmas? In the Scriptures above, James tells us that if there is disorder and fighting, then something is underlying the current “issue” we are fighting about.

The nation is always divided, we just have a  new issue that comes across the scene over which we can fight. And the same goes for families, churches, organizations and businesses. You have a meeting at work that goes sideways, and tempers flare as you discuss a new project or declining sales projections. Was the “issue” the issue, or are there underlying attitudes that are clearly the problem?

Here are a few things I’ve learned about the “issue”:

  • We will always have “issues.” There will always be things that we will disagree on, and will have the potential to turn into a major fight. Those “issues” are never going away.
  • The issues will change. This is probably the same as the previous point, but we may think we settled an issue, but then a different topic comes along and exposes the same underlying problems. New issues…same relationship and attitude problems.
  • We can agree on an issue, and still not be united. You can see this concept played out in Scripture, in politics, in the church, etc. Folks in a church may all agree on certain doctrinal stands, but are they united? We will find out when other issues hit the fan. You and I might find an issue upon which we can clearly rally. But when the “next issue” comes along it may expose that we were never really united.
  • We have to pray and calmly seek God’s guidance to look past the current issue. May God, the Great Physician, help us to see the real sickness and problem underneath instead of treating the symptoms. I may sneeze because I have allergies, you may sneeze because you have a virus. We have to understand the root problem, otherwise our treatment of the symptom may not work. In fact the treatment of the symptom could be dangerous.

For our meditation today, we can remember that when there are fights and quarrels, there is something underneath the surface that has nothing to do with the current issue.

A Shield About Me

Here is Psalm 3. It was written when David was running from his own son, Absalom. David’s son was trying to take the throne away from his father, and in doing so was trying to kill David. This was prophesied to David; this was part of the consequence of David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). But that doesn’t make it any less painful for David as he is running for his life while Absalom’s men are seeking to destroy him.

Psalms 3:1-8
(1) A Psalm of David When He Fled from Absalom His Son. LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.
(2) Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah
(3) But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
(4) I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
(5) I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.
(6) I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around.
(7) Arise, O LORD; Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
(8) Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

Think of what David says to God here. He looks around and sees thousands of people who have risen up against him. But he directed his faith and his focus on God the Shield who surrounds him.

Below is a link to a song based on Psalm 3. I love this song!

A Shield About Me

 

 

Some Thoughts on Gossip

2 Corinthians 12:20
For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish–that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.

Proverbs 20:19
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

There is a time to talk about a situation or about another person. David told Samuel all that Saul had done to him (1 Samuel 19:18). Paul and John exposed the sinful behavior of specific brethren in their letters. But we find ourselves justifying talking about people and situations way too much.

The Oxford Dictionary defines gossip as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”

What are some thoughts from the Scripture that will help us define what gossip is?

Gossip is talking about people and situations without seeking a solution.

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 29:11
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Are we just venting to others? Are we just telling our side of the story? Is our purpose to find a solution and seek reconciliation, or is it just to tell others how right we are and how wrong others are? Gossip comes from pride, we simply think too much of our own opinion that includes our opinions and conclusions of others.

Gossip is imagining the worst motives about a person and repeating that to others.

Psalms 41:7
All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me.

If our tone and our words are simply running somebody down, then what’s the point of that? If we keep thinking the worst of others, and we keep finding out that those things aren’t true, shouldn’t we look in the mirror and see that we are maligning others? God wants us to believe all things and hope all things, but if we are creating the worst possible scenario on people’s actions, words and motives, then we are not living in love.

Malign, according to Oxford Dictionary, means “to speak about (someone) in a spitefully critical manner.”

James 4:11
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Gossip is going “house to house” and repeating the story to person after person.

1 Timothy 5:13
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

Just as the gospel is spread “house to house” (Acts 20:20), so is gossip. Are we spreading the gospel or spreading gossip from house to house? We have to look in the mirror and ask if we are talking about a situation to too many people.

Leviticus 19:16
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Gossip is uncovering what should be covered.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Proverbs 17:9
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

My words have great power, including the ability to separate close friends. Maybe we need to be more like Noah’s sons, who walked backward to cover their father’s nakedness (Genesis 9). There are times to expose the sin, and the Bible is full of those examples. We especially need to expose those who are stirring up discord among God’s people. But as we are talking with others, let’s prayerfully consider whether we are seeking to cover sins or to make others look shameful before others.

Gossip must be stopped and silenced.

One of the jobs of shepherds in the church is to “stop the mouths” of those who are causing trouble. Gossip is one of the 7 things God hates. Shouldn’t we as God’s people seek to stop what God hates? The apostle John was going to personally stop the mouth of Diotrephes (3 John 9-10). Paul told Titus that the brethren’s idle mouths at Crete needed to be stopped (Titus 1:10-13). Paul knew that some people’s idle babble will spread like a cancer (2 Timothy 2:16-17). There was a time that Paul “delivered” certain brethren to Satan so they would learn to better use their mouths (1 Timothy 1:20).

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Titus 1:10-13
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

We stop gossip by:
  • Not repeating it. Gossip is like a chocolate cupcake, it sure tastes good to hear and really makes a great story to repeat. But God says this is sinful (Proverbs 11:13; 18:8; 26:20-22). Where there is no wood, the fire goes out. Stop adding fuel!
  • Not listening to it. The Bible says not to “associate” with a gossip (1 Corinthians 5:11; Proverbs 20:19; Romans 16:17-18). It amazes me that sometimes brethren are more concerned about disciplining a brother who has stopped attending church rather than stopping the gossip that is destroying the church. Gossips don’t make good friends. They just bring you down and you become like them. Proverbs says not to make friendship with an angry man lest you learn his ways and it be a snare to your soul (Proverbs 22:24). Gossip comes from angry hearts. Don’t hang around that kind of behavior.
  • Understanding that there are two sides. Love the other person who is being gossiped about. Love them enough to consider that you haven’t heard from him. Love him enough to go and hear from him. The Proverbs says that “the first one to plead his case seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Have you ever had someone gossip about you, and then that other person swallows that stuff hook, line and sinker without even coming to you? That hurts doesn’t it?
  • Following Jesus’ simple guidelines for resolving conflict (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus told us, no he commanded us what to do. Are we smarter than God? Do we think we have a better way to resolve conflict? As Dr. Phil may ask, “How’s that working for you?” Is our way working?

Jesus will stop all idle mouths one day. The passage below is Jesus saying that we will give an account of those idle words one day. We will give account for every one of those idle words…not to my friends, not to the church, not to my boss, but to Jesus.

Matthew 12:33-37
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Here are a few questions a shepherd gave me that he has used to ask others:

  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted you to go with them to try and reconcile the situation?
  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted your thoughts on how they could best approach them?
  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted you to pray for them?

James 3:5-18
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

God’s Anger in the Psalms, My Anger in the Proverbs

Today’s MDB is a follow-up of yesterday’s article about fierce anger. My friend, Geoff, sent me a great note reflecting on the “why” of anger, meaning “why am I angry?” He also pointed out that when Jesus was angry, it was mainly because of how others were being hurt, not how He himself was being hurt. At the same time, I was listening to a sermon where the speaker was saying pretty much the same thing about Jesus’ anger. So we are going to dive deeper into the anger of God.

God’s Anger in the Psalms, My Anger in the Proverbs

In preparation for this, I started searching the word “anger” and started looking through the references. It was interesting that in the Psalms, a large majority of the references were in connection to God and His anger. The same search in the book of Proverbs revealed that most of the instances of the word “anger” is connected to man and his anger.

It’s as if God wants us to reflect on His anger first, and then consider our own anger in comparison.

God’s anger in the Psalms

  • Psalms 6:1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.
  • Psalm 30:5For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
  • Psalm 77:9 – Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah. (The answer to that is in the Psalm, no…God has not forgotten to be gracious, and no He did not shut up His compassion in the midst of his anger.)
  • Psalm 78:38Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. (You can see in Psalm 78 that God was rightly angry for their sins, see verses 21,31,49,50,58. However all of that “anger” of God was couched in atonement, restraint and compassion).
  • Psalm 85:3 – You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
  • Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
  • Psalm 103:8-14The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
  • Psalms 106:37-40 – They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;

So, what have we observed about God’s anger? Here are some things I saw, and I know you all will see others.

  • God’s anger is for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Man’s anger is for a lifetime, while our favor is for a moment.
  • God is slow to anger. Man has a hair trigger for his anger.
  • God knows we are but dust. We with our anger blast other people into dust.
  • God’s anger is often focused on how others are treated. Our anger is often focused on how we are treated.
  • In God’s anger, he was compassionate, and did the atoning for our sin. He often restrained His anger/wrath, and refused to keep stirring it up. How about us? Are we seeking for others’ sins to be covered? Do we put a seat belt on our anger, or do we let it loose? Do we keep a “anger spoon” in our hands at all times, stirring the pot of our anger?
  • God does not deal with us according to our sins. He punished us far less than our iniquity deserved. We, on the other hand, are like James and John who want to bring fire down from heaven on the person who cuts in front of us in traffic.

There’s a lot more to consider on this. We’ll continue on Monday, Lord willing, and consider our anger as taught in the Proverbs.

Remember that the “wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20).

David’s Friends

After David killed Goliath, the people praised David, and his popularity soared even higher than the king himself, King Saul. Of course, King Saul didn’t take this too well, and was filled with paranoia, jealousy and rage. He made it his life’s work to eliminate David, because he was a threat to his power and popularity. So for most of the second half of 1 Samuel, David is on the run for his life. This was a time of great uncertainty and pain for David.

I want you to think about the position King Saul is putting others in because of his jealousy and lust for control! He is alienating himself from his family and from the best people in his land (Jonathan, Michal, Samuel, David, etc.). Our jealousy, fear, paranoia, desire to control and rage will drive great wedges between ourselves and the very people who can help us the most!

In Chapter 19 of 1 Samuel, we see at least four individuals who were true friends to David. There’s a country song that says, “You find out who your friends are.” That was especially true for David. But what does it mean to be a friend? At a practical level how did the following people show themselves to be a friend to David?

Jonathan spoke well of David.

1 Samuel 19:4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.

It’s easy to speak well of someone when you have a friendly audience. This wasn’t easy for Jonathan. Read verse 1 of chapter 19. ” And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David.” Jonathan had just received a direct order from his dad and king to kill David. Not very easy at this point to say something nice about David, is it? But Jonathan stood up to his dad and stood up for David and defended him. Jonathan reminded his father of the good that David had done and did not accept Saul’s premise that David was guilty and needed to die. It actually worked in chapter 19, King Saul listened to Jonathan. The next time this happens in chapter 20, Saul tries to kill Jonathan, his own son!

What about you and me? How do we respond when someone is talking bad about people? Do we stand up for those being gossiped about, or are we intimidated by the person who is gossiping to us? Do we consider that there are usually two sides to a story? “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).

David had a friend in Jonathan because Jonathan risked his life and his relationship with his father in order to speak well of David.

Michal protected David.

1 Samuel 19:12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped.

Michal was one of the daughters of King Saul. When David killed Goliath, one of the rewards was being able to marry the king’s daughter. King Saul wasn’t faithful in keeping that promise and gave his first daughter (Merab) away to another man. Then King Saul added another condition for David to meet before he could marry the next daughter, Michal. You see, King Saul noticed that Michal loved David, and was going to use her as a pawn to get David killed. David was required to go out and kill 100 Philistines and bring back evidence from their bodies that they were dead. So, David brought back twice the evidence! He killed 200 Philistines (1 Samuel 18:20-27)! Saul could not refuse him now, he gave Michal to David.

But look what happens next. Is Saul happy that Michal and David love each other? No. It drives him mad! He can’t handle that his own daughter is in love with the man he hates! Michal’s love can’t be controlled by him, so he is having a fit.

1 Samuel 18:28-30 But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually. Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.

In chapter 19, we see Saul again going mad with jealousy, a lust for control and paranoia. His rage got the better of him and he tried to once again kill David with the spear. David escaped, so Saul sent people to David and Michal’s house to kill David. Michal is put into a position where she has to defy her father and protect David. She helps her husband escape out a window and puts a decoy in the bed!

Michal was a friend to David because she chose to stand up for her husband and protect him.

Samuel listened to David.

1 Samuel 19:18 Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth.

Remember Samuel? He’s the old prophet and judge that Israel cast to the side because they wanted a king. We haven’t heard much from Samuel since he anointed David in chapter 16. But apparently he’s still around, and when David needed to get away, Samuel is first on his mind. Samuel may have been put out to pasture by Israel, but he was still useful for God’s purpose!

Samuel provided a refuge for David. He gave David a listening ear. Samuel had his own run-ins with King Saul, didn’t he (1 Samuel 13,15)? David had a friend in Samuel because Samuel gave him a safe place.

A few questions here are appropriate. Who is that Samuel for you? When things are getting all turned upside down, who is the Samuel in your life who gives you a safe place and a listening ear? Also, are you a Samuel for others? Do people feel safe coming to you for refuge and a listening ear?

All three of these friends (Jonathan, Michal and Samuel) put themselves at risk because they stood up for David instead of turning him into King Saul.

God put a miraculous shield around David.

1 Samuel 19:20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.

God saw what King Saul was doing. The Holy Spirit saw those men coming to arrest David, and he miraculously forced them to prophesy. The only words these men could say were God’s words. This happened two more times, and then King Saul himself came, and Holy Spirit forced Saul to prophesy. There was a Holy Spirit bubble around David. Like the Psalms, “He allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” (Psalms 105:14-15).

Bad things would still happen to David, but we can see that God was there working for David to shelter him. God was the best friend to David.

Even later on when David had no friends, he always had God.

1 Samuel 30:6 – And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

My mom would say to us that God is our best friend. I’ve forgotten that at times, but she was right. God was David’s best friend. David had some really good friends, but they could never be the great defender and protector that God is.

Passive Aggressive Behavior

Someone brought up to me the other day the term “passive aggressive behavior” when discussing a relationship problem he was having with another. I’ve heard the term a lot over the years, but haven’t studied it much.

Here are a few links from secular sources that deal with recognizing and defining this behavior in ourselves and in others.

5 Signs You Are Dealing with a Passive Aggressive Person

10 Things Passive-Aggressive People Say

These traits called passive-aggressive are certainly dealt with in the Bible. We have all kinds of unhealthy ways to deal with conflict, that is as old as Cain and Abel. But if we see traits in ourselves that are hurting others and hindering our growth in relationships, then understand that Scripture has the help for us to see those things. We also need to find someone who is wise, objective and godly to shepherd us through those attitudes and responses that are toxic to relationships.

Here are a few passages to consider as we go through the weekend.

Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him.
(Jeremiah 9:8)

His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.
(Psalms 55:21)

He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own Is like one who takes a dog by the ears. Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, Is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, “I was only joking!” Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body. Fervent lips with a wicked heart Are like earthenware covered with silver dross. He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
(Proverbs 26:17-28)

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…
(1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

Kindling Strife – The Fire Tetrahedron

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” 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 (Proverbs 26:18-21).

I’ve been taught that fire needs three things: fuel, oxygen and heat. But I know a firefighter (Jason) who corrected me on this. It is actually a fire tetrahedron: along with fuel, oxygen and heat there is a fourth element called a chemical chain reaction. If you knock one of these out, you don’t have a fire.

A fight needs the same four things: inflammatory words, people to say and repeat them, folks to react to them, and hot tempers. It doesn’t take much to start a fire, and it is pretty easy for people to fight.

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell (James 3:5-6).

This is what brings down nations, splits churches, destroys the workplace environment and causes the home to fall apart.

Here are some passages about the heat, fuel, oxygen and chemical chain reactions that cause fires in our relationships. Let’s meditate upon this today, men.

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body (Proverbs 18:8; 26:22).

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1)

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler (Proverbs 20:19).

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly (Proverbs 15:1-2).

A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression (Proverbs 29:22).

Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame (Proverbs 18:12-13).