The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 26:22-28 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross Are burning lips and a wicked heart. He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
In preparation for today’s Law reading and time of confession, I enlisted Madelyn’s help with the development of an illustration. So, I had her make me some chocolate chip cookies. Fresh out of the oven, hot, gooey, melty, and delicious. The smell of them was amazing. Getting them off of the cookie sheet and into my mouth, involved nothing less than selecting my target, and grabbing it with reckless abandon. Burning my fingers, and anything it comes into contact with, this blob of delicious goo was thrust into my mouth, and for a moment, there was pure bliss. Then follows pain, excruciating pain, as this molten cookie began searing the nerve ending in my mouth. It still tastes delicious, but it is painful. Instinct kicks in: “I am not going to lose this cookie” I think to myself, so, I swallow. Swallow it down. As it begins to slide down the old gullet, the heat begins transferring from mouth, to esophagus. It’s a really good one, because now I have the aftertaste of that delicious liquid hot magma in my mouth, with the pleasant sensation of warmth sliding down into my belly. It was painful, but the flavor and my craving masked the damage being done. The nerves in my mouth were punished, and I know that after all of the desserts of thanksgiving, this cookie was unnecessary, and unwise. But it was delicious, and satisfied my craving, for about 10 seconds. So I grabbed for another, knowing the pain that awaits, but not caring. Our appetite for, and consumption of, gossip, often follows the same trajectory as the eating of a freshly baked cookie. We know it’s gonna burn, but we do not care because it tastes so good. It’s why we like fake news, and soap operas. There is something satisfying about hearing someone else’s business isn’t there? It allows us to elevate ourselves above another, and say from our exalted position “Can you believe the nerve? Why I never? Who would do such a thing? How can a person be so ignorant? Thank God I am not like that!”. Back to soap operas for a second. Soap operas? Ridiculous, I don’t watch soap operas, that’s for bored housewives. Soap’s are so 1980’s. Really? You don’t like soap operas? Then why do you spend so much time scrolling through facebook, looking for little snippets of drama to gobble up? The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body. It would be real easy for us to point to the gossip and say “shame on you”, and would be right in doing so. But there is an oft overlooked aspect to gossip that we conveniently overlook: the appetite of the one consuming the gossip. In the proverb today, the writer drew a parallel between the words of a talebearer, and dainty morsels. What are dainty morsels? Well, after some searching, I discovered that dainty morsel carries with it more than simply the idea of a tasty little treat. There is some motivation attached to this word. Dainty morsel refers to food, or in our case words of a gossip, which are consumed greedily. You see, without the greedy appetite of a listener, a talebearers tales have no audience. Effective communication involves a couple of elements. There is a speaker, a message, a receiver, and feedback. If a talebearer doesn’t have a person greedy to hear his gossip, guess what? The destructive words of gossip are stopped in their tracks. Proverbs 26:20 says For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Oftentimes we are complicit in flaming the fires of talebearers and slanderers aren’t we? Post a certain topic on facebook, watch the ensuing trainwreck, knowing the whole time that people will come out of the woodwork and attack you, then feign indignation when they do. Us Christians like to use the prayer request as opportunities to gossip, don’t we? “Did you hear about so and so? Well bless her soul. We need to pray for her. Why, the nerve of her deadbeat husband to do such a thing. I heard from so and so that he…………..” and on and on it goes. Wood added to the fire. Dainty morsels being gobbled up. We must repent of our consumption of gossip, and our utilization of it to stir up strife. It is wicked, sinful, and destructive. James tells us that the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. There was an old proverb of sorts in the Navy that says “Loose Lips sink ships”. Gossip spreads fast on a ship, and can have serious consequences for teamwork and moral. Unchecked gossip is destructive. It can wreck friendships, it can create chaos in your marriage, it can damage your position in the workplace, it tears Churches apart, and ultimately, it ruins your witness for Christ. Let us throw ourselves upon the mercy of Christ, and seek forgiveness for how we often engage in talebearing, and are the greedy consumers of it. Please kneel if able as we call upon the name of the Lord.
Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus is the way, the Truth, and the life. No one comes to You, but through Him. Yet as Your children, we frequently find ourselves peddling in half-truths, lies, slander, and gossip, things contrary to You, and our new nature. We still find ourselves with an appetite for spinning stories and consuming the tasty morsels of gossip. We forget that our tongues, and by extension, our fingers on a keyboard, are capable of defiling us. We desire to have our cravings satisfied by tales, rather than by Your Word. Father, please be merciful towards us sinners, and fill us with Your Spirit, that we might speak words of peace, words of encouragement, words to build up and point people to Your Son, rather than words meant for our own greedy appetites. Help us to bear the fruit of self control in our use of words. Father please give us wisdom to recognize a talebearer, and the strength to turn away from this wicked practice. Father please forgive us when we sin with our mouths. It’s in Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Matthew 5:3-12 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 11-25-18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)