Delicious Morsels: Proverbs 18:8

Delicious Morsels: Proverbs 18:8

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Proverbs 18:8

Perhaps you have heard the expression, “Those are so good that you can’t eat just one.” I have said that occasionally after wrapping my teeth around a good potato chip or other delicacy. Before long, you have eaten the entire bag of chips because they are so good. In some sense, they are habit-forming. Of course, eating enough of that type of food will not be suitable for your health. Gossip is much the same way. Because of our sinful nature, something is pleasing about listening to the tale-bearer who has nothing good to say about another person. Of course, it often ends in ruin for the one gossiping and the object of their slander. The danger of a sinful tongue is repeated over and over throughout the book of Proverbs. It has the potential to destroy lives and ruin churches. It often leads to destroyed reputations (I know, you don’t care what others think about you – a lie you tell yourself). Yet, it doesn’t have to happen. The fact is that those given to gossip have a much bigger problem: a lack of self-control. You see, gossip is merely a symptom of a gaping hole in the life of the talebearer. The real problem, at the very least, is an inability to exercise self-control. Gossip requires at least two people to sustain its dangerous course: the one offering the slander and the one listening to it. It is the latter that Solomon describes in this verse. It is the one who, for whatever reason, relishes the idea of listening to a bad report about another person. Admit it, they enjoy it, or they would not allow it to happen. I doubt I would continue to eat a potato chip I didn’t like. I would eat one and realize it is disgusting and throw them away. A few comments:

First, if you are prone to listening to gossip, you must admit that you enjoy it.  The words of a talebearer are delicious to you, and they sink down into the pit of your belly, satisfying the deeds of the flesh. Second, if you are prone to listening to gossip, you need to realize that it is a vile sin before the God of heaven. The damage often done by listening to another’s evil tongue is incalculable. Who knows where that evil message has gone? If a person is a talebearer, they have likely told more people than you. Once they start, they don’t know how to stop. So, they spread it beyond your ears. Worse, they probably gossip about you as well. A slanderer is not a person of integrity. They are described as an abomination in Proverbs 6. Sure, it is easy to justify things. You can tell yourself that you are not the one who spread the lies. Yet, you gave room to it when you listened. Instead, it would be best if you had stopped it in its tracks and cut off the head of the snake. Third, there is a solution: Do not listen to it! Warn the person that what they are doing is a sin and call them to repent. Advise them of the heinous nature of gossip and then warn them that if it persists, you will follow the process of rectifying it by using the words of Matt. 18:15-17. You see, the danger of gossip is too great to ignore. It doesn’t go away on its own. A gossip will gossip. That’s what they do. Unless the Lord does a great work in them, they will continue spreading their “delicious morsels” around until someone eats of them and, as a result, destroys others. As a Christian, you have a duty to call people out for this sin. You do not have the right to eat their delicious morsels. They will sink down into the inner parts of your being and ruin you and others. 

The Westminster Larger Catechism has something to say about this subject. 

Q. 145. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence; suborning false witnesses; wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause; out-facing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence; calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery; concealing the truth; undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale-bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vain-glorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumours, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defence; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavouring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt; fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report; and practicing or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.

The one listening to a talebearer has a duty to protect the good name of the one being slandered. He has a duty to call out the iniquity of the one spreading tales and slander. He has the responsibility to resist listening to an evil report about another person. Why is it that people rarely call out their neighbor, friend, or family member for this sin? Because they enjoy listening to it as much as the talebearer enjoys spreading it. It will only stop once someone stops it. You are not responsible for the words of another, but you are responsible for what you hear, and if it is evil, a slanderous comment, a lie, or talebearing, then you must call that person to account for their actions. You are not responsible for what they do with your rebuke, but you are responsible to do it.

Of all the sins people in the church commit, this is the number one reason for church splits and disunity within the body of Christ. My friends, gossip, and slander; talebearing should never mark a Christian. Yet, we should not be foolish to think it doesn’t happen. It does happen, which is why the Word of God warns us about it. Each of us must evaluate the use of our tongue and ears and mortify the deeds of the flesh.

Two Evils: Proverbs 17:4

Two Evils: Proverbs 17:4

An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
    and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
Proverbs 17:4

What is it about gossip and slander that excites the human ear and heart? Let’s face it: most people seem to delight in spreading evil about others. True or not, accurate or inaccurate, people relish the idea of destroying the name of another, usually so they can defend their behavior or attitudes. The sin of the tongue is destructive in many ways, and it is one of the reasons why Scripture spends so much time warning us about it. 

In this proverb, Solomon wisely points out two evils. It may seem that he is only describing one, and the focus is more on one than the other. Yet, there are two evils here. First, there is the evil actions of wicked lips. Gossip doesn’t have much chance if others would stop it in its tracks and rebuke the one doing it as the evil that it is. It is interesting how Solomon describes the lips of the one spreading lies as wicked. He doesn’t pull any punches. He says their lips are wicked because they are wicked. We do not typically want to think of others in those terms. We look and see these people doing other things that are good and moral. We often make excuses for people who lie, slander, and gossip because they are not as bad as they could be. Yet, Solomon says that what they are doing is evil. The evil they are doing flows from their heart, which is wrong. Why is this abomination so severely categorized in the Bible? Because it destroys lives. It can ruin relationships, another person’s good name, their job, livelihood, and churches. The second issue pertains to those who listen. They are described as an evildoer. Gossip and slander require an audience. Sadly, most people are glad to listen and, sometimes, spread it further. The only thing that stops gossip is to cut it off at its source. An evildoer is more worried about what the other person might think if they call the gossip out for their sin. Rarely do they worry about the good name of their brother and sister. 

So, what do you do if you are confronted with “wicked lips”? You stop them! Do not listen to the lies of the evildoer. Refrain from giving them an audience. Call them to repent. An excellent practical tip in this area is to tell the person, “Would you like me to go get the person you are slandering and allow them to listen in on this conversation?” Most people would be horrified at such a proposition. What should you do if you have listened to the lies of others about another? There is always hope in Christ. You seek his forgiveness and endeavor through all the means he grants to repent of this sin, turning away from it. 

Yes. Slander and gossip — wicked lips – have the power to destroy. God’s people should be busy putting an end to this abomination. How many forest fires were started by a tiny spark? 

Two Evils: Proverbs 17:4

Daily Proverb for April 26, 2023 (Proverbs 26:20)

For lack of wood the fire goes out
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
Prov. 26:20

The image painted by Solomon in this verse is one that most people would immediately understand. To have a useful fire, it requires fuel. In those days, a fire was usually fueled by wood. In the modern world, fire is also fueled by other means. However, the point is the same. If there is no fuel, a fire cannot continue. Therefore, it must be regularly supplied with fuel to keep going.

The same is true for quarreling. As fallen people, we tend to love controversy. Discussions of every kind can be heard in the halls of churches and the rooms of homes. Sometimes they lead to quarrels that are useless and unprofitable. The quarreling that Solomon has in mind here is the one that a whisperer fuels. That is, a person that reveals secrets is always running his mouth, gossiping about others, talebearing, and using his tongue for evil instead of good. Nothing good comes from that sort of fuel, that sort of source.

On the contrary, it leads to division and discord. James rightly states that the “tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (Jas. 3:6). The same image is presented in this verse as Solomon’s offers. Therefore, we must be cautious about how we use our tongues. We must guard our words and avoid unnecessary quarreling. We must not be people that slander or gossip about others. If we do, it will lead to ruin. It will not lead to a helpful fire but one that destroys everything in its path. How many lives have been ruined by one who does not guard his tongue but uses it for destruction? That may not be the intention, but the danger still exists.

None of us are immune to the danger of an uncontrolled tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. I have witnessed and sadly participated in this sin within my circle of friends. It is too easy, it seems, to whisper, slander, and speak unkindly about others. I think pastors and elders are especially prone to this sin and must be extra-diligent because they have occasion to know many things — much of them offered in confidence. It is hard to discern, at times, when to say something to someone else as you seek to serve them. However, pastors are not the only ones in danger of fueling an uncontrolled fire. Church members, too, must be careful as well. When you are off in a corner, speaking under your breath, are you using your tongue for good and edification or wickedness and evil? Are you fueling the fire that will destroy homes, churches, and lives? Are you listening to a “fire starter” and contributing to this sin? When it happens to you, do you drown their words with water by telling the other person to cease their evil ways? If not, you are part of the fuel that leads to destruction. Remember, the Lord hears every idle word. He hears every whisper. He sees every email and text message. He sees, and he knows. 

There are many good things to talk about in this life, and many of them are good and edifying to the souls of others. Use your tongue for those things and not as an instrument to fuel a raging fire. Speak to others about your prayer life, Bible, and book reading. Speak to others about how the Lord is sanctifying you in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Speak to others about their affairs, asking questions about their lives and how you might serve them. Ask others to pray for you and how you can pray for them. If God’s people did these things, there would not be time for using the tongue for evil. 

The tongue is restless. It will fuel a fire that will destroy people. The problem, of course, is the heart. Examine your heart. Ask yourself if you participate in this sin. Ask yourself why. Then repent of it, plead the grace and mercy of God, and purpose by the means God has given to refuse to fuel fires with whispers, slanders, and gossip that will only ruin others and harm your soul. The Lord will sustain you as you pray, “Lord, give me what you command.” 

The Morning Devotional: WSC Q78; WLC Q145 (Part Eight)

The Morning Devotional: WSC Q78; WLC Q145 (Part Eight)

The Morning Devotional for February 3, 2022
The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q78; WLC Q145 (Part Eight)

Question 78
What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’ s good name. (1 Sam. 17:28Lev. 19:16Ps. 15:3)

Question 145
What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own, (1 Sam. 17:282 Sam. 16:32 Sam. 1:9,10,15–16) especially in public judicature; (Lev. 19:15Hab. 1:4) giving false evidence, (Prov. 19:5Prov. 6:16,19) suborning false witnesses, (Acts 6:13) wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, out-facing and overbearing the truth; (Jer. 9:3,5Acts 24:2,5Ps. 12:3–4Ps. 52:1–4) passing unjust sentence, (Prov. 17:151 Kings 21:9–14,10–11,13) calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; (Isa. 5:23) forgery, (Ps. 119:69Luke19:8Luke 16:5–7) concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, (Lev. 5:1Deut. 13:8Acts 5:3,8–92 Tim. 4:16) and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, (1 Kings1:6Lev. 19:17) or complaint to others; (Isa. 59:4) speaking the truth unseasonably, (Prov. 29:11) or maliciously to a wrong end, (1 Sam. 22:9–10Ps. 52:1–5) or perverting it to a wrong meaning, (Ps. 56:5John 2:19Matt. 26:60–61) or in doubtful or equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice; (Gen. 3:5Gen. 26:7,9) speaking untruth, (Isa. 59:13) lying, (Lev. 19:11Col. 3:9) slandering, (Ps. 50:20) backbiting, (James 4:11Jer. 38:4) talebearing, (Lev. 19:16) whispering, (Rom. 1:29–30) scoffing, (Gen. 21:9Gal. 4:29) reviling, (1 Cor. 6:10) rash, (Matt. 7:1) harsh, (Acts 28:4) and partial censuring; (Gen. 38:24Rom. 2:1) misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; (Neh. 6:6–8Rom. 3:8Ps. 69:101 Sam. 1:13–152 Sam. 10:3) flattering, (Ps. 12:2–3) vain-glorious boasting; (2 Tim. 3:2) thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; (Luke 18:9,11Rom. 12:161 Cor. 4:6Acts 12:22Exod. 4:10–14) denying the gifts and graces of God; (Job 27:5,6Job 4:6) aggravating smaller faults; (Matt. 7:3–5) hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; (Prov. 28:13Prov. 30:20Gen. 3:12–13Jer. 2:352 Kings 5:25Gen. 4:9) unnecessary discovering of infirmities; (Gen. 9:22Prov. 25:9–10) raising false rumors, (Exod. 23:1) receiving and countenancing evil reports, (Prov. 29:12) and stopping our ears against just defense; (Acts 7:56–57Job 31:13–14) evil suspicion; (1 Cor. 13:51 Tim. 6:4) envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, (Numb. 11:29Matt. 21:15) endeavoring or desiring to impair it, (Ezra 4:12–13) rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; (Jer. 48:27) scornful contempt, (Ps. 35:15–16,21Matt. 27:28–29) fond admiration; (Jude 16Acts 12:22) breach of lawful promises; (Rom. 1:312 Tim. 3:3) neglecting such things as are of good report, (1 Sam. 2:24) and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name. (2 Sam. 13:12–13)

The Morning Devotional: Proverbs 6:19

The Morning Devotional: Proverbs 6:19

The Morning Devotional for February 1, 2021:
The Sin of Sowing Discord

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers. (Prov. 6:16-19, ESV)

Previous Editions of The Morning Devotional: Season One (Psalm 119) | Season Two: (The Sermon on the Mount)
Previous Editions of Season Three: The Wisdom of Solomon