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Destructive Words

A hole in your roof is never a good thing.  Several years ago when we first got our camper it already had a small pencil eraser sized hole in the back corner of the roof.  I patched it and it never leaked again but little did I know the damage had already been done.   Recently, I began painting the inside of the camper and decided to check out the roof.  It was 16 years old and in need of replacement.  Knowing there was a small soft spot where the hole was located,  I knew it would be best to address it before resealing the roof.  As I peeled back the roof membrane I noticed the water damage was more extensive than I originally thought.   Rot was everywhere!  I ended up removing the entire back wall and side panels and replacing all of the wood on that corner, side, and back bottom.  The damage from that small hole took two days to repair and I hadn’t repaired the roof membrane yet.

A small hole doesn’t seem like a big problem but leave it unchecked for years and it can rotten the whole structure.  That’s much like a person in the church who is loose in their talk.  Leave them unchecked and they will rot the whole structure in time.  I confronted such a person who had been divisive, backbiting, gossiping, and rude in their talk for years.  No one had ever really confronted them.  Trouble seemed to follow them but no one wanted to step in and stop the damage they were causing.  One person, over time, had hurt so many.  When they once again hurt someone with their words and actions I confronted them.  But because they hadn’t been corrected in the past, they couldn’t see the destruction of their behavior or words.  They were deceived in all the wrong they had done in the many past examples I shared.  Eventually they stopped, repented, and began to change but the devastation of their actions was bigger than just a few people.  Like the small hole in the camper roof, they had damaged many lives.  As word got out about my correction, more and more people uncovered past hurt.  Left unchecked, this person had damaged many people and the structure of the local church.

Proverbs warns of such people.  “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24).  “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips” (Proverbs 20:19).  Gossip, hot-tempered, flattery, backbiter, and lies will destroy relationships and hurt people.  Backbiting is collecting information against a person’s character and sharing them with anyone who will listen.  A hot-tempered person has no self-control and no filter.  Someone who gossips often guises their talk in religious overtones like “Pray for them, you know they…” but usually never get around to praying.  Gossip is spreading false information or true information not meant for you to share.  Flattery is saying whatever you can to gain a person’s approval or favor.  This person doesn’t mean what they say but use their words to gain influence or attention usually to cover up other sins like gossip, hateful speech, divisiveness, or backbiting.  Think of it this way, gossip is saying something behind someone’s back you’d never say to their face and flattery is saying something to someone’s face you’d never say behind their back.  Both come from a wicked heart.  Of course lies, deceit, manipulation, and any twisted from of speech come from Satan (John 8:44).

There is life and death in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  The tongue produces fruit that either destroys or builds up.  It is creative or destructive.  Although you were never taught this in anatomy, the tongue is directly connected to the heart.  Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaks” (Luke 6:45).  He also said you bring out good or bad stored up in your heart.  So, if you don’t like the words coming out of your mouth, change your heart.  Confront and stop the destructive leaking of a gossip, flatterer, liar, and divisive person before they rot your whole structure.

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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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