For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
Have you ever gotten caught inadvertently gossiping? It is not a pleasant scene. It is very embarrassing and even more shameful that one can do little to make amends for the wrongs. It only begins a more dangerous route of division and strife between people. Contention is as a fire (vs. 20) that though it may begin small, if not put out, it will grow to wild proporations.
Proverbs 26:20 relates one reason for strife between people—giving ear to gossip and/or being the bearer of gossip. What is so dangerous about gossiping? For one thing, gossiping feeds the fire of division. If you know someone has said something unkind about you, you lose respect for that person and suspect that person of greater wrongs. Likewise, gossip spreads the fire of contention. It is like adding gasoline to a fire, and we often don't even realize the damage we are causing!
Consider how dangerous it really is. Gossip sometimes reveals secrets that are not to be told. The one who tells secrets can’t be trusted. Gossip also at times misrepresents words and action. We can, for instance, put a certain “spin” on our words (just with the very emphasis!) to make others look less than the situation dictates, and often times make ourselves better than we really are. Or, we can misinterpret the actions of another by failing to see the whole picture. Gossip causes jealousy between people, alienates one party from another and sows discord among friends, family membes, members of a church, long lasting friends and so on.
The message of this proverbs is STOP gossiping or even listening to gossip. If we really want peace in our world, let’s see the inherent dangers of this sin and ask the Holy Spirit to guard our words and thoughts so that we in no way participate in this evil.
Remember the words of James 3:6? “The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among 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.”
Let us then pursue peace by not refusing to participate in gossip.