Friday, October 8, 2010

More precious than your pocketbook

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 47

Read: Proverbs 20:22-Ecclesiasties 2:26

Verse that stood out:
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts - Proverbs 26:22

In a devotional book I've owned for years, a woman named Constance Cameron tells a story from her childhood of a time she was playing outside of an open window. Inside, a lady named Mrs. Brown was confiding a personal problem to Constance’s mother. She listened attentively even though deep down she knew she should not. She simply could not pull herself away. After Mrs. Brown had left, the mother, realizing her daughter had heard the conversation, called her daughter to her side. She asked, “If Mrs. Brown had left her purse here today, would we give it to anyone else?”

“Of course not,” Constance replied.

Her mother continued, “Mrs. Brown left something more precious than her pocketbook today. She left a story that could make many people unhappy. That story is not ours to give to anyone. It is still hers, even though she left it here. So we shall not give it to anyone. Do you understand?”

Constance writes that she did understand, and from that day on, whenever she heard a piece of news or even gossip, she considered that word to be the property of the other person and not hers to give to anyone else.

Constance’s mother obviously knew what the writer of the book of Proverbs tries so hard to convey. Words have mighty power to heal or to hurt. Yes, all of our ears stand up when we hear a piece of juicy news. The teacher writes, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (26:22). But the tastiness of gossip only masks its danger to cause harm, even to harm close friends: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (16:28). Gossip and slander can be like a great fire that’s hard to stop once it starts, but the writer of Proverbs reminds us, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (26:20). How many of our fights and quarrels would simply cease to be if we just kept our mouths shut?

Today, ask God to help you practice some self-control with your tongue. Your family, your friends, even the body of Christ will be the better for it.

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