Fire by Hell

“The Tongue also is a fire, a world of evil amoung 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”
James 3:6
This was written for those who have suffered because of the wickedness of gossip.  
Flames of destruction can be used to describe the devastation that slander and gossip create within the church.  The Above verse is a strong rebuke as to what God’s word says about those that would use their words to harm another.  Whenever We choose to use our words to tarnish the character of someone or to speak in a negative way, we allow our spiritual life to be consumed with a force of evil.  An Evil that can only be stoked by the flames of hell.
“Make A tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.  You Brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?  For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The Good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For By your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33-37
So after reading this passage, do you think it becomes safe to say that those whose speech is filled with negativity and who are harsh and aggressive have good in their heart?  Personally, I think that the scripture is quite clear.  
Slander and Gossip are definitely found within the church.  Even The “greatest” Christians have fallen to the sin of gossip.  

Are these sins wicked? Let’s investigate this question together.
First to define:

Slander: utterance of false charges or misrepresentation, which defames or damages another’s reputation

In the legal world, the term used is libel.
Summed up, if I say something about you that may be true to me….as far as my opinion is concerned….but may not actually be true and causes damage to your character, that is slander.
What about gossip? Gossip is even more vicious than slander.  It Is basically the same thing as slander only it is done in secret.  The Greek word used for gossip in the New Testament defines gossip as a secret slanderer.
Scripture is quite clear in saying that if my speech is not pure, then neither is my heart.  So Is it wicked?  ABSOLUTELY!  A gossip gives their opinion in a secret and cowardly way while the one who slanders, does so aloud.
Gossip may begin with “you didn’t hear this from me” or “just keep this between the two of us”. They want to keep their sin in the dark and use others as their tool to camouflage their wickedness.
One of my favorite (said jokingly) is when we, in the Christian world, use super spiritual language like “we are concerned and need to pray” in order to say negative things about someone’s character, intentions or motives.   Slander and gossip become wicked when we present it as a “prayer request” or maliciously disguise it as coming from “a heart of concern”.  Using Those things as a prayer request DOES NOT make it any less devilish.
“And Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things of worthy of death, they not only do the damage, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Romans 1:28-32
Here it is…if you have EVER made a secret comment or had a “secret conversation” about someone else without their knowledge, chances are you committed the sin of gossip.

These next five questions are things that you should ask yourself before repeating anything.

1. Would I want someone in my church to overhear the comment or conversation?
2. Am I 100% sure that what I am about to say is 100% true?
3. Have I said what I am about to say to another person TO that person?
4. If not then why? What is my motivation?
5. Will the statement lead me and those I am involving into a closer walk with Christ?
Ouch!  I think we all have fallen to the sin of gossip at one time or another.  In My personal opinion though, I feel that if you deny you have committed this sin, you are even more wicked and dangerous than those that at least acknowledge this sin.
It always amazes me how righteous we think to ourselves that we are yet, verbally will profess aloud to others that we are a sinner. That would be known as false humility and it too is a sin.

We are quite capable of seeing the sin in others but are often blind to our own sin. We often think that people need to change more than we do.  
Back to Matthew (6:3)

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
No matter how hard we try, we cannot and do not have the insight to see into the implications of someone else’s sin.  Only God has that knowledge.  We Do however have the ability to look into our own lives and see our own sin and rebellion against God impacts our own life. We don’t however do this because it is much easier to point out the sin of others than to acknowledge our own.
Someone who has truly experienced the presence and forgiveness of God will not feel righteous.  Instead, They will feel like they are “ruined”, for lack of a better term.  They Are able to clearly see the “plank” in their own eye and consider themselves the worst sinner of all.  They Don’t have the, “well I have not sinned as bad as they have attitude”.  
That is a scary place to be and that attitude of righteous thinking can lead us into the deep sin of slander and gossip.  We Become unaware of that huge plank sticking out from our own eye and begin beating everyone else us with it.
Scripture says that the Holy Spirit is grieved(Ephesians 4:30) by our unwholesome talk.  Unwholesome Talk comes from a place of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  (Ephesians 4:31)  Instead, we are to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (Ephesians 4:32)
That is somewhat hard to do if we are talking about someone else behind his or her back.  Right?  Do We not understand that it breaks the heart of God when we disrespect or gossip about His children? We recognize that gossip may hurt the person.  The Question becomes, do we recognize that God is hurt as well?  
God is not honored when we gossip.  He Considers it a wicked sin.  Gossip Causes division amongst believers and whether you are the one spreading the gossip or the one who listens, it is wrong.  To Man, it may seem to be a small sin but it is detested by God and when we participate, we hinder God’s blessing for us and can very much expect His discipline. “The Tongue also is a fire, a world of evil amoung 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” James 3:6
I believe that the Bible is quite clear as to the wickedness of gossip and slander and that we each should test our hearts.  “If Anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” James 1:26
Something to remember:
Those who gossip to you, gossip about you.

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