For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
There’s this saying, “Gossip dies when it hits a wise person’s ears.” This verse speaks directly to that. When we don’t stoke the fire of gossip, quarrels and bickering, when we don’t instigate by speaking life into the wrong things, they die out. Sometimes, especially where there’s been a genuine offense, it’s easy to justify why we won’t stop adding wood to the fire of that offense, but this Proverb speaks to the wisdom in letting the fuel stop with us.
I strongly believe that there is always room for healthy conversation and dialogue when perhaps there is a misunderstanding or an offense or if something needs some clarity. I think that having openness and humility to have difficult conversations is a characteristic of a good leader and it’s something that I always want to do well. A part of doing that well means learning to separate healthy channels of communication from gossiping and fruitless venting.
Here are just a couple of questions we can be asking ourselves in moments when we want to speak up:
- Is this the right person to speak to? Is the person I’m speaking to someone who can help the situation in any way? Are they involved in any way and is letting them in on it a necessary step towards resolution?
- Does this conversation pass the Phil 4:8 test? “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Is what I’m saying honorable, is it just, is it pure or am I speaking dishonorably, unjustly, unkindly?
- Is this going to build up or is it going to tear down? Will this help or will this hurt? The truth can hurt sometimes, but truth is meant to be spoken in love. Love builds people up, it doesn’t tear people down. It makes room for growth and improvement, it makes room for us to assume the best.
Father, thank you for giving us tools to live wisely. Jesus, thank you that you are the best example ever of knowing when to speak up in love and when to stop a negative word in it’s track. Holy Spirit, I pray that you would bring this word to mind and help it to give us pause when we are about to add wood to a fire that should be snuffed out. In your name, Jesus. Amen.