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Words of Faith 5-12-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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James 3:5-6

      Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.


       There is a rabbinical story told that a man came to a rabbi repentant for having told lies and malicious gossip about another person.  The man had found forgiveness with the friend but wanted to make things right with God.  The rabbi instructed the man to take a feather pillow to the town square, tear it open, and scatter the feathers to the wind.  The man did what he was told and then came back.  The rabbi then instructed that to find forgiveness, he must retrieve every feather from across the town.  (Wayne Dosick. The Business Bible p. 43-44) 

       It is a powerful story.  Not because it teaches us about forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ, but it illustrates the power of words to damage and the impossibility of retrieving them.  

       James makes the point with a different image.   A spark... sets a forest on fire.  It is a scene we are familiar with during the dry season.  No one even knows where the spark began, but the winds fan a raging firestorm, and thousands of square miles are scorched.  Can James put it any stronger?  It is not just malicious gossip.  It is the negative word, the thoughtless outburst, the harsh response, or the "dumping" of matters onto a Christian friend who simply does not need the burden. 

        How do we gain control of our tongue?  Sometimes a "fast" on speaking is good.  A season of quietness.  Resolving simply not to speak for a while.  Carefully realizing the power of not speaking. 

        Another way is not to give ear to it.  When the gossip begins, respond differently.  When someone comes with a juicy tidbit, how do you suppose these responses would impact the world of gossip?

       "Wait...  Is this something that I can share with that person...?" 

       "Perhaps we should stop before you share another detail and just PRAY for that person..."

       "This is a secret?  Then I want YOU to keep it a secret! That way, I will know you can keep my confidence in the future..." 

       "You know the other day I realized later I sinned by gossiping to you, and I would like to ask your forgiveness..."  

        "When we talked last time, I realized you were left with a terrible impression of our brother/sister in Christ. I would like to correct that." 

        "I want to confess to you that I have sinned by gossiping about you. Will you forgive me?"         Why is there so much gossip even in Christian circles?  Probably for the same reason, there is sleaze on television: Because there is a market for it!  Our flesh has an appetite for tasty morsels.  If Christians shut down the market for gossip, it will go away.



       Lord, forgive me for the fires I may have started even unintentionally.  I pray for the scorched land to be healed.  I cannot retrieve all the feathers, Father, but guide me to correct the most important lies.  I commit myself to make those corrections.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that there is no hunger in me to say or hear that which is not of You.  Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, I commit myself to think about such things.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2009, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.