Like Foxes with Tails on Fire

For over 16 years I have pastored and only in one church.  Before that I was a chaplain for the L. A. County jail system and in charge of “SuperMax” where the bad guys are locked up.  I have seen and heard every possible thing one can see or hear.  Toss in that I was also a police officer and you get the picture.  I am saddened by sin but I am seldom shocked or surprised.  I have met with murderers, rapists, molesters and thieves.  I have counseled people through all of the sins listed in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5.  But there is one sin that I find so pernicious and so exhausting that I have little tolerance when it rears its face.  It is the vile sin of gossip and its twin sister slander.

gossipIn Judges 15 Samson ties a torch between the tails of two foxes, three hundred in total, and lets them loose to wreak havoc on fields of the Philistines.  That is what happens when gossip is entertained and left unchallenged, that tongue that James says is full of restless evil (3:8) creates a firestorm in the Body of Christ and all that remains afterward is scorched lives of the Lord’s redeemed.  It is evil and it is to have no tolerance in the Church.

Revelation 12:10 speaks of Satan as the accuser and that is what slander and gossip do, they accuse a person of something without them being there to defend their character.  The gossip partakes in a work that does not befit their calling as a child of God.  That alone should be enough to make many clap their hands over their lips and run to the cross of Christ.  This is why Paul commands us to lay aside slander from our lips.  It grieves the Spirit and it is in keeping with the expectation to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (cf Ephesians 4:17, 31).  The answer that he gives to stop it?  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you”  (Ephesians 4:32).

Proverbs tells us that like a fire without wood, so strife without the “whisperer” goes away (26:20).  And I can say from many examples of confronting and disciplining gossips this is true every time.  Titus 3:10-11 is utterly, ruthlessly blunt.  “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,  knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”  If I was the one who said these words I am certain many would caution me of being harsh in my spirit, fortunately I can point to our ever gracious Holy Spirit and tell them to deal with Him.  The gossips, slanderers, tale-bearers, accusers and whisperers are all from the same factious, divisive cloth.  There is no place for them to find rest and peace in the Body of Jesus Christ unless they repent.  Until then we need to learn to use God’s words regarding them, “perverted” and “self-condemned.”

And our response to those who tenaciously hold on to their vile words?  Rejection.  Not “prayer partners.” Not Facebook friends.  Not, I-am-going-to-keep-on-with-my-relationship-because-I-want-to-show-the-love-of-God-to-them type of relationship.  You reject them.

One postscript to this little post.  Much like Paul says to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 5 about not associating with the immoral person; I do not mean the world, but those who claim Christ.  The world is filled with gossips and we work among them but we must never partake with them of that sin.  But for those who profess to be disciples of Jesus?  You reject them.

As an old friend used to say, “easy peezy.”

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on May 29, 2013, in Bible Observations, Church, Missional and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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