Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.
- Proverbs 26:20 NIV
This Scripture not only changed my life, it changed my entire family. I was raised in an environment where criticism and sarcasm were prevalent, even though my parents loved me and my sisters very much. By the time I discovered this Scripture several years ago, decades of grudges, gripes and ill feelings had accumulated. My siblings and I had children of our own, and three generations in my family had learned to live with strife and dissension. Once I became a committed Christian, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the gossip and sarcasm. God showed me the above verse and made it clear to me that I would have to take the initiative to bring about change in my family. The Living Bible version of this verse says, "Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops." Every time one of my relatives criticized or slandered someone else in my family and I joined in, I was adding fuel to the fire that was destroying the peace and harmony of my household. God instructed me to stop adding to the strife in my family by refusing to participate in any malicious talk against my relatives. When I was personally attacked or criticized, the Lord helped me to quickly forgive the offender and to resist responding with a hurtful retort. It wasn't easy, and the change didn't happen overnight, but my obedience brought about a healing in my entire family that established a peace, unity, and harmony that is an awesome testimony to the power and truth of God's Word.
If you're tired of the strife in your family, and you want it to change, I can tell you from experience that you can make a difference. But you've got to be committed, and you've got to rely on God's grace, because the devil isn't going to make it easy for you. Satan is determined to create strife and division in our families because he knows that the fullness of God's blessings are bestowed upon those who dwell in unity and harmony. (Psalm 133:1,3) He also knows that "a home filled with argument and strife is doomed." (Luke 11:17 TLB) But if you are a child of God, you are equipped with Holy Spirit power to overcome the enemy's schemes. The Bible tells us to "Work hard at living in peace with others." (Psalm 34:14; 1 Peter 3:11 NLT) If you're serious about wanting peace in your family, you're going to have to work hard at it. You're going to have to "make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you." If you can't do it for any other reason, then do it simply because "the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13 NLT) When it's absolutely necessary to confront a family member about their behavior, don't talk about them behind their back, but "speak the truth in love." (Ephesians 4:15) Make an effort to speak only words that encourage, build up, and benefit others. (Ephesians 4:29) And pray for your family. Your prayers can move the mighty hand of God in awesome ways. Rest assured that the Lord will honor you for your faithfulness, obedience, and love. My prayer for you is that today, you'll take the first step toward bringing healing to your household, and discover for yourself the heavenly rewards of a family dwelling in peace!
Prayer: Lord, give me a holy determination to initiate healing in my household, and show me how to take the first step. When I'm tempted to participate in behavior that produces strife, remind me that I have the Holy Spirit power to make a difference. Make me quick to forgive and help me to always speak the truth in love. Thank You for blessing my family with peace and harmony as a result!
- J. M. Farro