We’re back home from a long trip that was intense…full of new information, new relationships, hard stuff and steep learning curves.  I feel like I should be full of energy and productivity, catching up on all that I missed while we were out of the country.  But I’ve got nothing.  The truth is, that with travel our spiritual and physical rhythms of health got all out of whack and what I feel like God is saying to me is “Sabbath”.  So I hope you’ll be ok with me re-posting some thoughts from February 2011.

My husband, John has been leading our church and our denomination through some controversial waters lately, making it seem some days like he’s Jason Bourne running the gauntlet with a lot of people shooting at him. One person threatened him and called him a terrorist… A tad scary. I asked if there wasn’t “someone” we should report that to. As our friend Sharon says, “Words matter.”

A couple months ago John met with a good friend of ours for coffee.

This should have been a good thing. It was with someone we love and respect.

But when he came home he was …dejected I guess is the word for it. Because this appointment was an attempt to start rebuilding a relationship that has been damaged by gossip. Gossip that was totally unfounded. And as much as John could deny this slander, the damage had been done. He was frustrated and tired and sad.

He and I have been overwhelmed and discouraged at different times experiencing the destructive power of the tongue.

In the Bible James says the tongue can destroy like a forest fire. How do you “un-burn” a forest after a fire?

We just can’t totally undo the damage of words. It seems there’s always a lingering wound, a seed of doubt, a bit of suspicion. I think about how long it takes a charred forest to experience re-growth and I grieve the damage that will take so long to repair. You just have to carefully protect and nurture the new life that starts to grow out of the ashes and pray no one sets another fire.

Why do we seem to want to expect the worst of others, especially leaders?  To make us feel better about ourselves?

How delighted must Satan be when our gossip destroys the unity that Jesus called the Church to model?

This is an example from our life, but it’s not about “us”. It’s about all of us…it’s about the Body of Christ and our posture towards each other.

As someone who has both sinned in this way, and experienced the terrible fall-out from others who have, I want to renew my commitment to honest, direct conversations and words that build up.

I feel like I should have Proverbs 10:19 tatooed on my hand: “Where words are many sin is not absent.”

What’s your experience with gossip?  Have you been wounded by it?  Do you struggle yourself?

2 thoughts on “Un-burn

  1. In the past year or so God has impressed the awareness of words and the reaction that words can cause. I have posted on my refrigerator two verses I’ve been meditating on for this season of my life. Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” and the other is Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Whether it’s leaders of a church or the children in our own homes, we will all benefit from speaking truthfully and gently, always keeping in mind the gentle heart of the person receiving our words.


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