A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. – Proverbs 16:27-29
“He’s such a troublemaker!”
I can still hear my late grandfather describing one of his co-workers like this. I really don’t know any details, but somewhere long ago, my grandfather and another man had a disagreement which never seemed to be resolved. I just remember my grandfather saying this other man liked to “stir up trouble.” Even though I was a relatively young child, I sensed that most anywhere this other man went, there often seemed to be stress and friction.
From my personal experience as I’ve grown older, I have noticed there are people who enjoy stirring up strife. This often manifests itself as saying or repeating things that are unnecessary. Passing on a form of gossip or worse, passing judgment on someone with very few (or no) reliable facts can be quite damaging.
It’s pretty easy to see this in other people. But too many of us in the church have had our own problems with this area.
In our modern culture, I’m seeing this often displayed in a public manner via social networking vehicles. Somebody “hears” something and it becomes a post on an internet site, with little – usually no – fact checking. Further, there often is an implied recruitment going on. An attempt to win others to their side and soon a false, misleading or unsubstantiated comment is deemed “true.” It can be devastating and as King Solomon writes, it can separate “close friends.”
It’s been a common theme in Proverbs to watch our words. While not mentioned directly, I think the printed word would be included in his warnings.
King Solomon labels persons who engage in that activity with three pretty harsh terms. He calls that person, “worthless,” “dishonest” and a “man of violence.” It might be hard thinking of yourself this way, but if you are tempted to engage in this kind of activity, either spoken or written, you might want to pause a moment and consider your next step.
So before you pass along your opinion (few of us will admit to judging others, but we do love to share our opinions!), ask yourself if your comments about someone are: 1) true, 2) necessary and most importantly, 3) glorifying to God. If you just take a few moments and think through those thoughts, you may end up not saying (or writing) much. Our speech or written words can be violent weapons with disastrous consequences.