Sunday, June 30, 2013

Where There's Smoke, There's a Hellfire Tongue...

People here like to say that "Where there's smoke, there's fire." Usually they are implying that if someone has been accused, they probably have done stuff to deserve it.

I usually respond that the fire is coming from their mouths, which is a reference to this verse:

And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:6  NLT

 I wrote a post a while back that discussed "cognitive dissonance" in history, and in my mind I connected to the following verse, but I don't think I ever said so publicly.

Alternate translations makes the point even clearer:

A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. NIV
A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.. ESV
 Its not commonly understood that those who mistreat others, even if it is 'only' verbally, will be prone to hate their victims. Their hatred can be as strong as if there had been a real incident to excuse it. Its not all that uncommon, but many people haven't recognized this behavior in action and don't want to believe that a 'quarrel' can be purely the product of mean-tempered gossip.

Prov 26:20 "Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down." NIV
"Where no wood is, there the fire goes out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceases." KJ 2000

I wonder if following Christ's injunction to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matt 5:44)" simply opens us to more grace from Heaven. Well, I know it does, but I am wondering if there is a conditioning aspect as well. Both the Cat & Dog Whisperer have pointed out that putting animals in a physical position that usually reflects a good mood, improves their mood. Also associating another creature or activity with anything positive, makes it more acceptable to the pet. Humans like to think we are beyond such effects, but I wonder.

I say this, because the opposite is also true. I've had plenty of practice praying for those who have spitefully used us.  I know how much it can help the healing process. If you sincerely pray for your enemies salvation, if you consistently seek to do and speak what is true and kind towards those who have done you wrong, your anger towards them will pass. You will be capable of empathy towards the temptations and prejudices that beset them. You will be capable of complex objective thought when their name comes up, instead of blind incoherent rage. Aside from the spiritual benefits, this is a lot more useful when you are trying to work out what 'really' happened - and how to stop it. All those messages about forgiving others for your own sake? They are a lot easier to internalize when you followed Jesus' instructions.


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