The pile of gray sand in your southern yard is a fire ant mound. Look at it closely. Hundreds of little red ants are busy about their day – in and out, carrying food to the queen, greeting each other, passing information along. Now take a stick. Poke it in the middle of the pile, and stir. Instantly there are millions of angry, red fire ants swarming everywhere. You’d better run – if you get more than five or ten bites you will be looking for Benadryl or on your way to the emergency room with an Epi-pen.
Divisive words are like that – using a stick to stir up a fire ant mound. Then people are angry, swarming, and looking for someone to bite.
Divisive words disturb the balance, what scripture calls the unity and harmony of believers.
Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things the Lord detests, three of them have to do with the tongue: Lying, the false witness who utters lies, and the one who spreads strife among brothers.
Divisive words start with bad thoughts about someone, with a desire to cast doubt, or with a desire to share juicy gossipy news…
Divisive words often start with, “Well, she said…” or “Did you know…” or “You wouldn’t believe what she did…”
One of my greatest and most persistent challenges as a ministry leader has been dealing with women who come to me to complain about someone else. Sometimes they just wanted to vent (don’t we all?!). Sometimes they were really looking for help resolving an issue. I learned to ask all of them, “Have you gone and talked to her about it?” Scripture teaches that we must attempt to resolve conflicts with others directly – and that we must never stir up the fire ant mound by talking badly about other women. It creates discord and disunity – and an awful lot of hard feelings and bitterness.
Are you a peacemaker? Or are you prone to stirring up the ants?
Ladies, let us learn to be peacemakers and to resolve our conflicts as patiently and directly as possible. And, as I always say to my kids,
“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues