Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighborProverbs 26:18–19 (ESV)
and says, “I am only joking!”
Not long ago, I was working in the woods around our house, cleaning up downed and dead limbs. Cutting them up, hauling them up the hill, and burning them. It was a full day and it didn’t take long for the day to turn into night.
Being late in the evening and dinner was being prepared, I went ahead and doused the fire with a water hose. I went inside to clean up and eat before retiring for the rest of the night…checking the ash heap several times to make sure it didn’t flare up again.
When it was almost time for bed, I went and looked one more time only to find the fire actively burning once again. The wind had started to pick up and finding a stray ember and adequate fuel, the flames had reignited.
Once again, I had to go out and put more water on it and did a thorough job of drowning it this time. Of course, it didn’t stop me from checking it several times throughout the night to make sure that it was out.
Proverbs gives us a word picture to remind us of the power of our words.
Especially in light of the relationships that we have with those around us. Words make an impact and Proverbs uses vivid language to give a warning about how we use ours.
Proverbs 26:18-19 (quoted above) reveals that those who use their words carelessly are depicted as a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death at others. Those who use words to injure or destroy others not only damage relationships but their heart is revealed when they try to justify their actions.
It is likened to someone who would shoot someone with an arrow, cause them to die, and then explain that they were joking when they did it. How absurd it is to consider this kind of action by someone we would probably consider to be mad!
What is the better action we should take? He goes on in verses 20-21 by telling us:
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 26:20–21 (ESV)
If we are to stop the madman’s behavior, we must discipline our mind, heart, and tongue when it comes to the words/conversations we have. Sometimes it is better to just not give any more fuel to the fire.
More often than not (especially as of late) I have limited my time on social media because I have to constantly ask myself, “is this conversation/argument/accusation, worth a response? Every time, the Holy Spirit reminds me that it is not my monkey and not my circus! Some online arguments are just not worth the time or headspace to dive into.
It also grieves my spirit to watch as “believers” engage in public accusations of the world, family, coworkers, and people in general. It’s as if there is a type of solace in airing out our grievances in hopes of either starting an argument or getting support from people with limited knowledge of the situation.
If the church is to be effective in impacting the world around us for the glory of God, we must make sure that we are salt and light. Our personal and public lives must exhibit the mercy and grace of God, especially in the conversations that we have.
Grant it, there will be those of whom you open yourself up to that will bite back. It’s times like that which remind me that I can only control my response, I cannot control theirs. Their response reveals their heart.
For believers, to love people well, we must refrain from publicly crucifying people with our words. Guard your time on social media and stay away from keyboard assassins, so that you don’t get pulled into the sess pool of constant bickering, arguments, and backbiting. Rise above it all by showing the love of Christ and letting the world fight among themselves.
Where the Journey to 300 began: Journey to 300~Day 1: New Beginnings
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