I talk a lot. Always have; perhaps I always will. It has certainly been something I had to be mindful of because speaking can get you in trouble. The Bible speaks a lot about the words we speak and even the action of speaking. We are to be quick to listen and we are to be slow to speak.
If we are slow to speak, it allows us to think before we put our foot in our mouth. It also can keep us from sinning. It could prevent you from saying something hurtful or destructive to someone you care about when you are angry or frustrated. Something that is said cannot be unsaid. It’s important that we have the ability to bite our tongue, even if we are right. If we speak without thinking, we will leave behind us a path of destruction.
This verse also speaks about being quick to listen. Listening is often an issue for us. We want to talk. We want to share everything. I think we may like the sound of our own voices. It’s a me world. Listening is harder. It means you are allowing others to control the flow of the conversation. It means you are focused and taking in what the other is saying. Hopefully it means you are truly paying attention to the person. As you listen, you get to know more. As you listen, you basically are acknowledging that the speaker matters. Today, aim to be slower to speak and quicker to listen. Control your tongue.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 [NLT]
When Korah had a problem with Moses and Aaron, it wasn’t a matter of taking it to Moses and Aaron and dealing with it. Ironically, the problem wasn’t with Moses and Aaron, but with God, because He was the One Who put these two men in their positions. Nonetheless, Korah stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron.
We were created to be communal people. We have friends. We have people we go to about our problems, our worries, our joys, and life in general. Sometimes we get upset with someone, and we take that to our friends. In doing so, we often stir them up. It makes us feel better. Our friends agree with us. We have someone on our side. But what does it do to help the situation? Where is the relief? Now your friend is sharing your opinions about someone. Your friend is thinking poorly about this person who wronged you. By sharing all this, you have stirred up the pot. Now there is something between you and this other person, and something is between your friend and this other person. Stumbling blocks and more stumbling blocks. Imagine if your friend tells another person. Before you know it, everyone knows what this person did to you.
Proverbs 16:28 speaks about a troublemaker planting seeds of strife. This is exactly what Korah did– planted seeds of strife. We are called to be peacemakers, not troublemakers. If we are too busy making trouble, we will never be able to make peace. Remember, the fire goes out without wood. When you get upset with someone, go to the person and make peace. Ask the Lord to help you to forgive. Allow the fire to go out. Keep the peace. You will be blessed (Matthew 5:9).
“Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to the whole community.” – Numbers 16:19 [NLT]
“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” – Proverbs 16:28 [NLT]
“Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” – Proverbs 26:20 [NLT]
I love candy. I was born in Hershey. How can you be born in Hershey and not love candy?!? I know the difference between good candy and bad candy. I know the nasty taste of cheap candy. I remember when candy would be passed around in school or during a holiday and it wasn’t something very familiar. Sometimes it was bought at a bargain store; sometimes it was on sale because it was out-of-date. Either way, the candy was disgusting. It made me sick.
Today’s passage speaks of gossip—listening to gossip. “Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy” – YUCK!!! “Do you really want junk like that in your belly?” Well, do you?
Gossip is horrible. It is not good to be the spreader of the gossip. It is not good to be on the receiving end either. It is certainly hard to get the gossiper to stop talking or to change topic. I know I have a problem with this because I don’t want to be rude. The best thing I have been able to do is to change the subject. I cannot always do it, but I try. You have to let the gossiper know you don’t want to hear that stuff. Truthfully you don’t want to hear that stuff. It is junk in your belly. Plus it might get the gossip to realize his or her bad actions. Remember that whether you are the gossip, or the hearer of the gossip, both bring about trouble. You don’t need the cheap candy to sicken your stomach. Change the topic. Walk away. Tell them you don’t want to gossip. Do whatever you need to do to keep the words from entering your ears.
“Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
do you really want junk like that in your belly?”
– Proverbs 18:8 [MSG]