Four Things to Avoid Prov. 26:17-21 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In the Christian life, because you are associated with lots of other people in church and in fellowship, there are four things to avoid in church – these are things that plague churches – here are the four things to avoid:
Avoid Meddling with Strife – v.17 – you can hardly help trouble brewing amongst people – it just happens – and it is best to just let the two work it out on their own – one will finally concede, or one will just find that its not worth fighting about, or one may end up leaving – and in the process of coming to a conclusion, they will often try to get other people involved (on their side) – don’t take the bait – just instruct them to work out the problem on their own and you pray – otherwise you will get involved in a way that will harm you – it’s like taking a dog by the ears – you will get bit if you don’t hang on [in other words, once you take on the problem, you will have it far longer than you want to keep it] – you will end up in trouble for something that was none of your business in the first place – Biblical examples abound – Moses tried to settle a dispute between a Hebrew and an Egyptian and ended up killing the Egyptian – that cost him 40 years in the desert – Josiah meddled in the fight between Pharaohnecho and Carchemish – he ended up dead after being promised a life that would end in peace.
Avoid Deceiving your Neighbor – v.18-19 – the more “innocent” version of this parable is seen in a practical joker – he sets up a gag to get somebody – generally it is all in fun – but sometimes it can be a real disaster – one such mad man was Shimei, who cursed David while in exile – he was the first to welcome back the king after the unexpected death of Absalom – but the king didn’t see any “jesting” in Shimei’s cursing and instructed Solomon to find a way to kill this Benjamite – David referred to the attempts of Saul to kill him with a SPEAR as hunting a partridge (sport) – the truth is that behind deceiving your neighbor is a real spirit to destroy [to kill] the target of your actions – but when you are confronted, you will feign innocence as in Jn 7:19-20 – many pastors have been brought down by these kinds of characters.
Avoid Spreading Gossip – v.20 – this one is very obvious but it is also commonly disobeyed – if you want trouble and strife just open your mouth and spread what you know or believe to be the truth about a situation – keep wood on the fire – throw fuel on the fire and that will do it – once everyone shuts up, the fire goes out – it’s that simple – so don’t gossip and don’t listen to gossip.
Avoid Stirring up Trouble – v.21 – a contentious man can cause a problem to blaze in the same way that coals added to burning coals and wood added to fire cause a fire to grow bigger and last longer – he sees what he perceives to be a problem and then he starts fanning the flames – many churches have split like this – businessmen typically want things to go their way so they stir up trouble in the church to pressure the pastor to go their way – if the pastor is committed to going God’s way, the men will throw more wood on the fire and get up a bigger group (like the mob that killed Jesus) – if the pastor holds his ground, they will leave the church and take a large group with them.
Conclusion: If you will remember these four things to avoid in church, you will be much happier in church and much less likely to ever find yourself in the middle of a church split.