KEY SCRIPTURE: 2 Samuel 10:3 & James 3:6 2 Sam 10:3 And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, spy it out, and overthrow it? James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. RELEVANCE In Job 38:2, God challenges Job about his knowledge and wisdom with a question that should shake us all. Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
So many times in my life, I have given the counsel of my opinion, only to find that my words would have been better off not said. Thank God I use much more discretion, research and aim these days, but I can still get it wrong. When the words and spirit we choose are wrong, our counsel is dark, not light, providing little godly wisdom and a lot of ego. Today's key scriptures show us a scenario that turned bad quickly, leaving the reader stunned at the actual price of the advice given. In this event, a war started that cost the lives of so many people just because of the opinion of suspicion. No facts, just words without knowledge. King David had a good working relationship with the Nahash, King of Ammon. Upon the death of Nahash, David sent comforters to his son, Hanun, during his grieving process: a kindly gesture, and much the same as us sending a bereavement card to a friend. But, his foolish counsellors—the princes of Ammon—planted seeds of doubt in his mind, causing him to think David's motive was to spy out the land and take it over by war. This was as far from the truth as they could get. But those princes lived off the public purse, were financially well off, rarely went to war themselves, nor personally paid its expenses. So they could freely throw such comments around. The seeds grew quickly, and Hanun issued the order to seize David's comforters, shave off half their beards and shame them. I guess it's much like tearing our bereavement card for a distorted reason. This one act of secret boardroom comments caused such immense death that the current Israel-Hamas war seems like small pickings. David didn't take kindly to Hanun's rebuttal of his kindness and sent his Army General to teach them a lesson. Hunan, preparing for war with David's Israel, bought the services of Syria to support his own army. In no time, there were three armies ready to fight to the death. Do you know the cost of running an army into battle? Of the Syrians alone, David's warriors slew the men of seven hundred chariots and forty thousand horsemen. Scripture doesn't say how many Israelites or Ammonites died. That's an immense amount of families shattered, sorrowful and bitter. This mass destruction was due to some simple opinions, or should I say simple-minded opinions. Most of the world's conversations are merely personal opinions, and Christians are commanded to do three critical things to keep them from starting bushfires like that battle. 1. Do not gossip. (Proverbs 16:28) 2. Prove all things before we pass on information. (1 Thessalonians 5:21) 3. Use discretion when we speak. (Proverbs 2:11) James 3:6 above states that wrong words can start as a small flame and end up a blaze of iniquity, setting families, congregations, and even communities on fire. As we see with Hunan's comfortable princes, they defiled their entire nation, making it a stench in the nostrils of God's King, David, a national friend, and probably all the people of Ammon once war was declared. Think of the totally unnecessary misery and wasted money because of a few words of counsel from unlearned minds. Our Saviour calls us to a life of wisdom and knowledge, not gossip or acting on rumours we've heard. He calls us to truth, mercy and proper godly judgment. We're not called to start fires or fan others' fires of trouble by spreading tales but to put them out. The only fires we fuel or fan are those of spiritual repentance, renewal or revival. If we stick to that, we'll find ourselves on the Lord's side.
PRAYER Dear Lord, I often see wars starting in the news due to a few leaders suggesting it's needed. We don't need any futile mini-wars in our churches, so please help me with my suggestions and comments. May they never create fires, whether small in one person or bushfires in a congregation, group, friends or family.
Photo by Jamie Spaniol