Bible Reading: Proverbs 26.20-28
For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. 21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. 22 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. 23 Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross Are burning lips and a wicked heart. 24 He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. 25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart. 26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. 27 He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. 28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
Recently I was making an announcement in church about our upcoming Gospel Conversation Training. I made a slip and said, “Our Gossip Conversation Training.” It was rather humorous.
I was stopped a few weeks later by a friend who said, “You know you were not far off when you mentioned gossip.” He told me about the origination of that word. It is actually “godsibb”. It was used to speak of a close friend or god parents back in the day who would witness a child’s baptism. The idea that went along with the word was that if the parents of a child died the friend or god parent would then pass on what the parents taught them about God. So, the original meaning was good.
But the word, like others, over time took on a negative meaning and that is what we have in today’s scripture text. You have pictured in this section a man who is a quarrelsome person. I love a good fire and love to add wood to keep it rolling, but the picture here is that a persona who gossips and lies with their lips is adding wood to the fire of strife.
This contentious man pictured is quarrelsome by nature. He may at times have glowing speech or flattering lips, but he is of evil intent. The apostle James gives us very vivid and real picture of the power of one’s speech saying, “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 3.6).
Jesus can change our mouths by changing our hearts. First, by us coming to Him by faith and surrendering our lives to Him. Our evil nature is changed to His good nature. Then, daily we as followers of Christ are to be renewed by the Word of God, so that our mind and mouth would be changed continually to mirror the image of Jesus (Romans 12.1-2).
Let us go back to the original meaning of “gossip” to “godsibb” and speak of the Lord instead of being quarrelsome with our words.
Memory Verse: Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. Proverbs 26.11