Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

The parallel drawn in verse 20 likens gossip to wood thrown on a fire. It adds fuel to the flame. Note the further reference to gossip in verse 22. In our sinfulness we savour these tit-bits; these juicy morsels. The flesh goes ‘yum, yum’ and feeds on the stuff. But gossip does no good. Someone said that a rumour is like margarine. Once it’s spread it can’t be un-spread. As a general rule, before saying (or repeating) anything, it is wise to ask three questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it Kind?

But as verse 21 indicates, gossip is not the only way to keep a fire burning. It reads like this in ‘The Message’:

A quarrelsome person in a dispute
    is like kerosene thrown on a fire.

I feel I may be addressing these words to someone who is seriously tempted to throw a piece of wood on a fire. Perhaps it’s already in your hand. I understand, believe me, I do, But I beg you to take the high road – by God’s grace. You won’t regret it. But you may very well come to wish you hadn’t tossed that piece of wood in the fire’s direction. You can end up being badly burned yourself, let alone the damage done to others.

”Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs” (Proverbs 19:11: ‘New Living Translation”).