Friendly Fire

In war, or even training for war, occasionally our own troops are killed or wounded by our own forces.  This terrible mishap is deeply regrettable, especially to the families of the deceased.  In combat, with smoke whirling, bullets whizzing, confusion abounding and explosions mounting, and life and death hanging in the balance it is understandable (though not acceptable) how a fellow soldier, being disoriented and uncertain, might fire at the wrong target.

In religion, “friendly fire,” also occurs.  In times of conflict and differences brethren can fire words at each other, wounding and even killing one another’s souls.  How wise if we, as children of God, would recognize that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).  Words do hurt and are like bullets fired in time of actual military conflict.

James even goes so far as to say, “For we all stumble in many things.  If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).  James likewise mentions that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.”  Also James adds, “But no man can tame the tongue.  It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:6, 8).

Let’s make sure, at all times and under all circumstances, that our words are good words.  “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).  “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Perhaps the Lord pinpointed our tongue trouble the best when He said, “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks!  A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart bring forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34, 35).

How shameful when the Lord’s church is victimized by “friendly fire.”  We must keep in mind the real enemy of the human race, Satan the Tempter (I Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:10), and make sure we’re shooting in the right direction at all times, lest we inadvertently hit our brother or sister.  Let peace and good cheer characterize us as God’s people and may we always be known for our good words.

Bill Dillon

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