A few years ago my husband installed a wood-burning stove/heater in our basement. It’s a very efficient way to heat a home but it requires quite a bit of preparation. Months before there is ever a need for heat, trees are chopped and/or trimmed and kindling is collected. Pallets of stacked logs become an early indicator that cold weather is well on its way. Brrrr!!
It’s a terrible feeling to get halfway through the winter season and realize the inventory is getting low! Yet, when that same philosophy is applied to gossip, it’s actually a positive thing that the wood supply is inadequate. This is the wisdom found in Proverbs 26:20 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.”
A talebearer is synonymous with one who gossips or stirs up contention with their conversation. It requires an eager participant to stoke its embers and fuel its intensity. A fire like this relies upon a consistent dose of “wood,” and can burn endlessly with no regard for its surroundings. The damage is usually irreversible, leaving charred cinders of pain, hurt and confusion in its aftermath. The best prevention? Silence. Like a fire that isn’t being fed, a one-sided discussion will quickly fizzle out.
Our boys didn’t like being reminded that the wood heap needed replenishing. It was a chore that became a necessity for survival (or at least warmth!). The next time you’re approached by an individual whose language is going to tear down or tattle incessantly, remember this illustration. Your response to withhold the energy source will smother any smoldering blaze!