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blog meditation Proverbs

Meditation Proverbs 26c

20 Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. 21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. 22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. 23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbour deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. 28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Prov. 26:20-28 NIV)

20 Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. 21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. 22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.

When there is a quarrel between two parties that quarrel can be kept going through gossip.  The media keep a controversy going by phoning up people to get their reaction to something that was said.  When I worked in the prisons, quite often I was contacted by the media to get my reaction to something that might have been said by a politician.  Sometimes I wouldn’t even have noticed what had been said, so they would draw my attention to it and then say they would phone me back in 30 minutes to get my reaction.  After the media had contacted several people they would then announce that there was widespread criticism over what was said, resulting in calls for the politician to withdraw their remarks and apologise, and possibly resign.  The controversy was whipped up by the media fuelling the reaction.  Quarrels in a church can be fed by people gossiping.  If the gossip is stopped then it is like a fire without wood, it eventually goes out.  The Teacher is calling upon us to be careful in what we say.

Some people are naturally quarrelsome, and they can create strife when there doesn’t need to be strife.  Their unpleasant disposition makes people uncomfortable being around them because they never know what might set them off.  Sadly, these types of people lack the emotional intelligence to see what they are doing.  The simile describes the volatile behaviour as charcoal to embers or wood to fire.

Sadly, we are all inclined to like a bit of gossip.  We feel good about hearing it because that means someone has selected us to hear the latest.  We also like to gossip because it shows others that we are a source of private information.  At the back of this sin is pride.  The Teacher warns us about this because to us it seems like a harmless exchange of information, but it can ignite a flame that may not be easily put out.

23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbour deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. 28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Unless you are familiar with the process of purifying silver and the use made of the dross in the ceramics industry this might be a difficult simile to understand.  To purify the silver, it is heated and the dross or slag is separated out, leaving a purer silver.  The dross is then used as a glaze for ceramics.  It is shiny and appears as an expensive silver but is in fact a cheap biproduct from the refining of silver.  That is the picture the Teacher is referring to, and his meaning is that just as silver dross appears shiny and smooth on ceramics, so fervent lips conceal the intent of an evil heart.  The same idea is found in the next verse.  The enemy speak delightful words, but their hearts are full of deceit.  These kinds of people are not to be believed.  The Teacher uses strong language to describe their hearts, they have seven abominations in their hearts.  The Teacher doesn’t intend for us to list each of the abominations (though see Prov 6:16-19).  It is a way of describing how utterly wicked the heart is.

They may deceive many people but eventually in the final judgement their wickedness will be exposed and punished.  Whoever prepares a trap for others will eventually fall into that trap.  Inflicting evil on someone is like rolling a stone, and the stone will roll back on that person.

Someone who tells lies has hatred in their hearts for the one they are lying about or lying to.  When they falsely use flattery to obtain an advantage, they work ruin in their own lives and in the lives of others.

Prayer

Lord help us as we choose our words to reply to others.  May our words and attitudes bring peace and build up the people with whom we talk.  Help us to bear with patience the unkind words that are spoken to us.  Help us to understand what so grieves a person that they feel compelled to use unkind words.  Lord as these proverbs have touched on very practical matters, help us to address those areas of our lives that these proverbs speak about, because we ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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