Proverbs 26:20-22

Where there is no wood, a fire goes out,
and where there is no gossip, contention ceases.
Like charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire,
so is a contentious person to kindle strife.
The words of a gossip are like delicious morsels;
they go down into a person’s innermost being.

Since the wood stove was a significant source of heat for our house growing up, I spent a lot of time playing with fire. Probably too much, but as a boy, it’s always fun to get to play with fire from time to time. I used to have scars to prove that I had earned the right to play with fire, but those are gone now.

There is an amazing thing that happens with fire. When you put a log on the fire and let it burn down, eventually there will be coals of the log that are spread out across the bed of ashes. If you leave the like that, they will go out and die in that place. There will be coals of wood that didn’t burn all the way down to ash. But, if you push them all together, their combined heat will help burn the coals all the way down to ash.

When they’re together, the heat each other up, but when you separate them, they die out. This is exactly what happens when you have a contentious person. You get someone who likes to create problems, they like to gossip about people, they like drama and so they do things to stir up drama. And so they go fishing. They fish for someone else who will join in with the drama. They fish for someone they can suck into the drama who will help fuel the fire of strife. And it doesn’t take much to get a fire going.

And while it can be hard to put a fire out, it’s not that difficult. All you have to do is figure out which person is causing the fire and then separate them from the rest of the coals. If you can do that, the fires will go out. They may still flame up from time to time, but eventually they will fizzle out because there is no fuel being added to burn.

So, if you’ve got a gossip-filled, contentious fire, find the logs that are creating the fire and separate the from the rest of the bunch.

I bet the fire will go out.