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KILLER?--OR HEALER?--What Is Your Tongue?       Maria #436       CM/FM 3188       4/98
--By Maria

My dear Family,
       1. I love you! I pray that these messages the Lord and Dad have been giving us about our words and the power of the tongue are causing some changes--some positive speech revolutions--in your lives! Praise the Lord! Doesn't it feel good to get your heart right with the Lord and your brothers and sisters? Even though some of these messages might sting a little bit, afterward they yield the "peaceable fruit of righteousness to them who are exercised thereby"--which I pray is all of you. I know that if we follow the Lord and obey His call to humbly and prayerfully make things right and to raise the standard in the areas we've fallen down in, our Homes will be happier, more loving and united. That means that you, personally, will be happier and more blessed of the Lord as well!
       2. This GN deals with another aspect of the little "offending member"--the tongue--this time having to do with hurtful words spoken unprayerfully to others. We've received reports that this is a growing problem in some areas, with some of you thinking nothing of coming up to someone and speaking whatever is on your mind, even if it is unkind, unloving, and sometimes intended to hurt. Such comments are malicious at worst, and certainly unprayerful at best! Lord help us!
       3. If you don't see the seriousness of this or the need for a change now, read on, as the Lord and Dad make it clear how terribly it is affecting and hurting others and thereby hindering their service for the Lord. How sad! That should motivate you to do whatever it takes to change--knowing that the effect of your words is causing others to stumble, and even souls not to be saved, through some of your brothers and sisters not being able to carry on at their full potential for the Lord.
       4. I'm really praying for each of you, that you will listen to the Lord's voice in your heart, that instead of brushing off the conviction or excusing yourself, you will do what seems to be the more difficult thing at the time and actually follow through with what the Lord is showing you or convicting you about--knowing that He always leads us in the right path, the humble path, the path of greater blessings and usefulness to Him! Though it might seem like death at the time to have to confess, apologize, ask for united prayer, and ask others to help you stay in check, the Lord is only asking it because He knows it is necessary if you want to gain the needed victories in this area. Besides, it never hurts to lose a little pride, and through it become more like Jesus! Right?
       5. As Dad brings out, it's all in the Word--in the Bible! If you're guilty of this sin of hurting others through your words, I would advise you to get out your Bibles and look up the verses that Dad refers to, and you'll see that he is putting it comparatively mildly when compared with the way the Lord and the prophets of old stated the facts! (See also "The Power of the Tongue" in Word Basics, pg.188.) Please take it to heart, and pray desperately that the Lord will help you to make the needed changes in your heart, first of all, and have more of a fear of Him about the words you speak! We are a Family of love, and we can't allow this unloving speech in our Homes any longer! It's got to stop--now!
       Love, Mama

       6. {\b \i (Jesus speaking:)} The Enemy tries to come in to disrupt, distract, slow down, or stop the great work that My children are doing. There's always the threat of internal attacks, especially when My children live in close quarters and difficult circumstances, and it's easy to get on one another's nerves. It's easy for the Enemy to exaggerate the other person's weaknesses, or the little flaws and idiosyncrasies that can be so nerve-wracking and bothersome. It's easy to start looking at one another negatively, to the point that you eventually don't even see the gifts, talents, and strengths of the other. All you can see are the things which bother you so much, and all you can remember are past mistakes, blunders, and blow-its.
       7. These have been common problems amongst missionaries throughout time. So it's no surprise that the Enemy would attack My faithful ones with disunity, discord, lack of love, frustration, discouragement, lack of communication, bitterness, strife, negative thinking, talking behind one another's backs, gossip, cliques, and a self-righteous pointing-of-the-finger and blaming the other person.
       8. All of these sins are like the little foxes that spoil the vines, for they slowly but surely weaken My Church. They slowly but surely eat away at the foundation of love and unity. They slowly but surely spoil the sample that My children would be to outsiders. They slowly but surely steal the joy and satisfaction that My missionaries could have if they were working hand in hand, and were united in heart, mind and spirit.
       9. Oh My children, dwell not on the bad about others but the good. As you ponder the faults and failings of others and discuss them behind closed doors, or blurt them out to the person whom you think has such failings, you only reinforce them in your mind and heart, and they grow. And you not only reinforce them in your own mind and heart, but you influence others by your attitude. If you expect people to have problems and act out their problems, they sense that in your spirit, and are more likely to be that way. As you sow dislike, hostility or hurtful words, you reap the same.
       10. If you expect good of others, and have a positive attitude of faith towards them, then you reap goodness and love from others. Positiveness breeds positiveness. Yes, I know the problems, faults and failings are still there. But these things are not driven away by backbiting, or by cruel and cutting comments to someone's face. Remember that I am Love, and that My law is love, and My wish is that you love one another as I have loved you. I loved you when you were yet sinners. I gave My life for you when you were yet dead in trespasses and sins. Above all things, have fervent love among yourselves. (End of message from Jesus.)

       Life and Death Are in the Power of the Tongue!
       11. {\b \i (Dad speaking:) }I've always said that the way to avoid an accident is to make it impossible for that accident to happen. If you knew that a bad accident could be caused by something in your Home, such as faulty electrical wiring that could cause a fire, you'd fix it, wouldn't you? Well, I sure hope so! You're not likely to let a toddler get near a hot stove or to leave a young child unattended in the bathtub. You take care to prepare the food with the safety rules in mind, making sure to wash and clean and cook it properly so you don't go getting sick with food poisoning and things of that sort.
       12. You wouldn't purposely put something in your mouth if you knew it was gonna make you sick, would you? If you knew the food was contaminated and you were gonna get sick as the dickens with the runs or stomach cramps and vomiting and the like, you wouldn't eat it. If you could see a hazard or accident coming and you could avoid a broken arm or leg, a twisted ankle, a bad scrape, burn or bruise, you would certainly avoid it at all costs, wouldn't you? If you knew in advance and could change the circumstances that would cause you or someone else to have that accident and be laid up with a broken bone or a bad wound of some kind, you'd do everything in your power to do so, wouldn't you?

       Wounds to the Heart Are the Hardest to Heal
       13. Well, folks, let me tell you, you can avoid some of the worst accidents that are prevalent in the world today--and certainly some of the worst accidents that are happening in our Homes! Do you know how? One of the very worst diseases and sicknesses that's being passed around today among our Homes is that of a wounded heart! Beloved, this has gotta stop, lest you be responsible for gravely wounding another's heart! This is the most subtle of all hurts, because the wounds are not always visible to the naked eye, but they're there all the same.
       14. Some of our own folks are being wounded in the very worst way they can possibly be wounded, and I want it to stop! These hurts and wounds are the most severe of all, because you can't always see them. They're not necessarily outward wounds, so this makes them all the harder to detect and remedy. These are internal wounds and the hardest of all kinds to heal. They take the longest time and the tenderest care to heal. These are wounds to the heart and soul, scars to the heart caused by an unkind word, an unprayerful comment, an unthoughtful remark. They're deep wounds that leave deep, dark, ugly scars. I'm seeing them on many a heart, and God help you if you are the cause!
       15. Believe me, wounds to the heart are the hardest of all to heal. Did you know what is one of the biggest causes of death in the world today? The statistics on Earth will never tell you this, because often they make up all kinds of logical reasons. They have so many cover stories [EDITED: "false stories intended to mislead"]' in the world today--excuses they give for the cause of death, all kinds of false reports to cover up the real truth. But one of the biggest causes of death in the world today is people dying of wounds to the heart--broken hearts, aching hearts--because they've been slandered, maliciously defamed, wrongly hurt with degrading remarks and unkind, cutting words.
       16. Some folks just give up the fight to live! They give up the ghost, simply because their heart has been wounded beyond repair. Others in the world today who don't know the Lord have been so badly wounded, so discouraged, and fallen into such despair because of ugly slander and smut thrown their way, that they've taken their own lives! People are dying of broken hearts every day! God forbid that this should ever happen in any of our Homes!

       Don't Shoot at Your Brethren with "Friendly Fire"
       17. Are you being so fooled by Satan that you're giving way to this damnable, devilish, sly attack that he's letting loose on the world today? Are you falling prey and getting duped into using this most distasteful and deadly weapon?
       18. Did you know that every one of you possess the power of life and death? All of you have the power to give life or to bring death, and it's all contained in that little tiny member--that tongue of yours! Do you realize that the Devil knows the power of the tongue? And he's out to get your tongue in hopes he can put it to use to do his own dirty work! You can bet Satan is trying to cash in on this most lethal weapon--and he even tries to trick you, God's Own children, into shooting those weapons off in the direction that he wants them to go so he can gain ground.
       19. I want to ask each and every one of our folks: Which way are you shooting the weapon of your tongue? Are you shooting it toward the Enemy and casting him down with the truth of God? Or are you haphazardly aiming at your own brethren, indiscreetly and indiscriminately shooting at them with "friendly fire"? God forbid!
       20. Each of you possess the power of life and death! God's Word makes it very clear. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Pro.18:21). You each have a tongue, don't you? Well, if you have a tongue, then you possess the power of life or death! I want to ask each and every Family member right now what your tongue is doing. Are you using your tongue to give life, or are you using it to bring death and destruction?

       Clever Cutting Comments Are the Way of the World
       21. Now, if the power of death is in the tongue, who do you think would try to zero in on this and get you to use your tongue to bring harm and hurt and death? Of course, that ol' boy Satan! He's always on the prowl, lurking about, waiting to use your tongue if you'll let him! Believe me, Satan knows how powerful the tongue is, and that's why he's on an all-out campaign. He's made it the "in" thing, the "in vogue" thing, the "cool" thing in the world today to shoot your tongue off at the drop of a hat in quick, sharp, cunning comments. Isn't that the way of the world?
       22. Who do you think is the perpetrator of sarcasm? Who do you think is behind making sarcastic and cutting remarks and tearing people down with the tongue the fashionable thing? Sarcasm is running wild! It's almost a virtue in the world to see how cutting and sarcastic you can be with your tongue! The world's gone mad, folks--badmouthing, throwing around dirt and smut about others with defamation of character, slander, you name it! And forget about going to the bother of doing it behind people's backs--in these Last Days it's often out-and-out, face-to-face confrontation!
       23. All this foul-mouthed, dirty talk, sarcastic way of life is no longer seeping out in a small steady flow--it's gushing forth in an uncontrollable rage that's sweeping the Earth! And guess what's one of the most common vehicles the Devil is using to promote this cause?--TV and movies, with all that foul and hurtful language that they use so freely, so unashamedly. It hurts people! It kills their spirits! Yet they don't often show you that in the movies, and so after a while you begin to think little of using it in real life, when let me tell you--your words are real things! You all might get tired of me harping on this, but I've never been one to pull my punches! I've gotta call a spade a spade! It's out there everywhere--in the movies, in the music, on the TV, in the schools, in the workplace. Everywhere you look nowadays, the Devil is promoting his dirty attitudes through his role models that he projects in all the sights and sounds going round!
       24. He's made it the "in" thing, the "cool" thing in the way of the world, to sport a clever tongue, a slick tongue, spoutin' off cutting comments, whatever comes to mind--"throwing mud," as we used to call it in my day. And all this bad talk and slinging rubbish around about others is like shooting death rays in the form of ugly, smutty, cunning remarks and comments, wounding the hearts and souls of men!
       25. It's rampant in the world today, and sad to say, this has seeped into our own ranks as well! Brethren, this ought not so to be! Are you so blind that you can't see that the Enemy is pulling the wool over some of your eyes? Has Satan bewitched you, fooled you into falling prey to his evil sorceries? That's what it's like, folks, because there's power in the tongue! The power of life and death is in the tongue! And if you're using your tongue to speak ill of your brother or sister, to talk down about them or to them, to cause hurt, God help you!

       What the Bible Says About the Untamed Tongue
       26. Are you so ignorant of the Devil's devices? Does he have you so deceived that you can't see the dangers of this? Some of you younger generation had better study what God's Word says about the tongue, because I think if you realized how powerful it really is, you wouldn't be so free to lend it to so much hurt and harm. The Devil is playing for keeps, folks, and you'd better think twice before you let one more evil remark come out of your mouth! Do you realize all that God's Word has to say about the tongue? Are your eyes blinded to what's going on around you? Is it possible that the very elect--you, God's children--cannot see the horrendous harm that some of you are causing with those little tongues of yours?
       27. Open those Bibles to James chapter 3 and read for yourself what the tongue is capable of! That little tongue of yours might be small, but look at the example here, starting in verse 4: "Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth." So although that tongue of yours is very small--not more than a few inches long--even so, like the helm of a great ship, it can control your life and bring about great things, either for good or for evil, in your life or the lives of others!
       28. Read the next verse: "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" I sure hope your tongue is not boasting great things, because God's Word has a lot to say about that too. Read on: "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of Hell." That little tiny tongue of yours has the power to defile the whole body! Unless you keep it speaking the right things, it's capable of setting on fire the course of nature and wreaking destruction!
       29. Let me warn you, of all the weapons of war the world has ever known, the tongue, that tiny little member of your body, is the deadliest of all! It's set on fire of Hell, folks! Read on: "It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Deadly poison, because it can be the cause of the most deadly of all sicknesses, the deadliest of all diseases, because it's capable of breaking hearts! A broken heart, a wounded spirit, who can bear? Are you going around wounding spirits with your loose tongue? God forbid!
       30. It's time to check your hearts, folks! Are you blessing God and cursing men at the same time with your tongue? What does it say further down in verse 10? "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." Anyone in our Homes who is going around with a loose tongue, spouting off whatever comes to mind without prayerfully considering the consequences, had better get down to brass tacks and study up on what God's Word has to say about the tongue!
       31. My mother used to preach on the power of the tongue, and she'd always remind her audience that there are seven things that God hates. If you don't think that God is capable of hating, read what it says in His Book! God hates evil, beloved! You'd better believe it! And do you know that of the seven things that God hates, nearly half of them have to do with the tongue? Can any of you name the seven things that God hates?
       32. Open those Bibles to the Book of Proverbs, chapter 6: "Six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto Him [DELETED] a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren" (Pro.6:16-19).
       33. There you have it! Out of that list of seven things, three of them have to do with the tongue! Almost half of all the things the Lord hates are caused by that little tongue! He hates "a lying tongue," "a false witness that speaks lies," and "he that sows discord among the brethren!" Watch out if this is a picture of you! If you're badmouthing your brethren, watch out! If you're twisting the truth, distorting the facts, and thus sowing discord among our brethren, watch out! If you're talking about others to their hurt and the hurt of their reputation, you're guilty of partaking of the things that God hates!
       34. There's so much in the Bible about the tongue and the evil it can cause, I just can't do the subject justice! It's almost unbelievable to think that anyone in the Family could be caught up in this snare, this trap of the Enemy to the hurt of others, when we're supposed to have the love of Jesus!
       35. If you want to keep your soul from trouble, you'd better learn to keep your tongues! Read what the Word has to say: "He that keeps his tongue keeps his soul from troubles!" (Pro. 21:23). Now, here's a thought to ponder--and I want you folks to think on this, and think on it long and hard:
       36. Words are real things. They bless or they curse; they lift up or they knock down. Real things! Jesus Himself had plenty to say about the words that we speak! His Own Words are spirit and life--they bring hope and life; whereas the Devil's twisted truths bring discouragement, despair, doubt, disillusionment, death and destruction.

       You'll Have to Give Account of Every Word
       37. The Lord said that it's not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a man. What comes out of your mouth is what will bring you success or ruin! Do you realize that you're gonna have to give account for every idle word that comes out of your mouth? I want you to think about that the next time you're tempted to say an unkind word to or about your brother or sister! Every idle word! That's E-V-E-R-Y--every word! How's that for an awesome thought! This is not an exaggeration, folks! The Lord means what He says! Every idle word!
       38. Do you know what an "idle word" is? An idle word is anything that doesn't minister faith, hope, or love to the hearer. An idle word is one that curses instead of blesses, that tears down instead of builds up, that ministers hurt and harm instead of peace and joy.
       39. By the words that you speak, you're gonna be justified or condemned. "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Jesus Himself said it, and you can read it in Matthew 12:34-37. Now, if that's not a sobering thought to wake you up and knock some sense into your heads and put some good healthy fear of the Lord into your hearts, I don't know what will! I hope this will wake you up, shake you up, and knock those blinders off your eyes that the Devil has put there!
       40. It's all being written down in a great big book, folks--every word that you say! If you're fool enough to think that you'll not be held accountable for your words and your actions, you've got a mighty big surprise coming! The Devil never lets this cat out of the bag when he's tempting folks with all this coolness and criticism and idle thoughts and harmful words that he puts in your mind. He always tries to blind your eyes to what's around the corner and tempts you to just live for the moment--but believe me, in the end you're gonna have to pay! All the while the Devil tempts you to give your tongue over to his dirty work, he tries his hardest to distract you from the reality that you're gonna have to give account for every word that comes out of that mouth of yours!

       Fill Up on the Lord's Words and Filter Your Words
       41. What you folks need to learn is to filter the thoughts that come to your mind. You're not to spout off every single thought you have, but you've got to filter them. Measure each one against the standard of the Word. Pray and seek the Lord to see if it be true or not, to see if it's worth repeating or not. Some of those thoughts of yours aren't even your thoughts! That's the Devil's business, he's always casting darts--and this includes twisted thoughts, unedifying comments, and cutting words and comments that come to your mind that he tempts you to repeat! The only way to stay free from them is to stay filled up with the right words and the right thoughts by spending time with Jesus and keeping your mind on His Word!
       42. If you want to think the Lord's thoughts, you've got to spend time with Him! Do you want your conversation to be full of the superficiality of the world or the truth of God? Do you want to spread the light and warmth of His divine love, or promote cruel, unkind words that bring hurt and harm and death? It comes down to this--does Jesus control your tongue, your heart, and your spirit, or have you become a fool?
       43. Oh, there's so much in the Word about your words, the mouth and the tongue! It would do you well to study up on it. You're not to be rash with your mouth. That means you're not to speak off the top of your head, without praying first. "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in Heaven, and thou upon Earth, therefore let thy words be few" (Ecc.5:2). And here's another good one: "He that hath knowledge spareth his words" (Pro.17:27). So that's really being wise--sometimes the best thing you can do is spare your words. Wisdom is being silent sometimes. "He that refraineth his lips is wise" (Pro.10:19). So if you want to get smart, learn to keep your mouth shut at the right times!
       44. You don't always have to spout off what you're thinking, and you'd certainly better not spout off ugly things and unkind words that are gonna cause hurt to someone, lest you be found a fool! Which do you want to be like--the fools the Bible talks about, or the wise that the Lord said He would reward?
       45. Open your Bible and read what it says, folks! If you'd read and study the Word more, you might not be so quick to badmouth your brethren! Do you want to be a fool or do you want to be wise? The mouth of fools pours out foolishness! He who utters a slander is a fool! A fool's lips cause contention, and a fool's mouth brings his own destruction. A fool's lips are the snare of his soul! (Pro.15:2; 10:18; 18:6,7). Read it! It's all right there in your Bible! Open it up and read what the Proverbs have to say!

       Tears in Heaven Over Hurtful Words Here
       46. Are you gonna let that tongue of yours bring a snare to your soul? Do you know what a snare is? It's something that gets you all tangled up! Is that where you're headed? Do you want to be all caught up in the Devil's snare, his trap for fools, causing hurt and harm to others with your unkind words? Are you gonna have to hang your head in shame when you arrive over Here on this side and it comes time to give account for all those idle words? I've seen it happen time and again since arriving Here in Heaven. I've personally witnessed the sad, sad story of those souls who've arrived Here and have had to meet their fate, as they meet with all the ones they hurt with their unruly tongue!
       47. You'll be mighty sorry then when you have to face all those who you've hurt and maimed, all those whose hearts you've been responsible for wounding, all those you've given deep, dark, ugly scars to! You'll be sorry then for the cutting remarks and cross words. You'll be ashamed then that you didn't pray more and filter those thoughts, and refrain from speaking those words that were so hurtful. You'll regret that you acted in haste and uttered your mind without praying!
       48. There are still some tears up Here in Heaven, folks! If there weren't, the Lord wouldn't have to wipe them away. And, oh, the tears that have been shed when people stand before God to give account, not only for every idle word they've said, but for every hurtful word, every cutting remark from a backbiting tongue, a bitter tongue, a foolish tongue, a slanderous tongue! Every word you utter will either justify you or condemn you. Jesus said so!
       49. The Lord says that His Word will not return to Him void, that it will accomplish all that He sends it to do, and that's true. But I've got news for you--your words will also return to you! They're not lost, but they're all being counted up, tallied up, and in the day of reckoning they will either justify you or condemn you! Not one word that you speak is lost. All man's words either bless or curse; they're either accomplishing good or bad--every word! You're gonna have to give account for every idle word! Jesus said it! Read it! Think about it! And act on it! Clean up that tongue of yours!

       What Sort of Words Will You Choose?
       50. Which do you want to be--a fool or a wise man? "A fool uttereth all his mind, but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards" (Pro.29:11). Which will you choose today--the tongue of the wise that ministers grace to the hearers, or the tongue that speaks lying words that have no profit for good?
       51. Your words will bless or they will curse--which do you choose to utter? Are you speaking vanities, words that are causing hurt? Are you badmouthing others, uttering all your mind like a fool? Are you cursing others with your tongue? Are you giving your mouth to evil by speaking deceitful and proud things about your brothers and sisters? Are you smiting another with your tongue? Are you gossiping or slandering with your tongue? Is your tongue like a sword, wounding the hearts of others? Are you speaking mischievous things? Is your mouth speaking foolishness, to where your tongue is causing mischief? Are you causing madness with your tongue? (See Ecc.5:7; Pro.29:11; Psa.10:7; 50:19; Pro.10:18; 12:18; Psa.38:12; Pro.17:20; Ecc.10:13.)
       52. Or are your words pleasant like the honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones? (Pro.16:24). The tongue of the wise gives health, folks! Which do you want to give--hurt or health? Remember, you possess the power of life and death in your tongue! Your very health, or the health of those around you, could be dependent on the words that you speak! Which do you want to bring--life or death? A wholesome tongue, one that speaks kind words, is like a tree of life. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Pro.15:4; 25:11).
       53. There's a lot to be said about the words that we speak. They're either encouraging and lifting up, or they're condemning and breaking down. Which will you choose--that which gives grace, hope, comfort and encouragement to the hearers, or that which breaks down and hurts?
       54. David prayed and asked the Lord to let the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart be acceptable in the Lord's sight--and you'd do well to do the same, beloved! We used to pray that little prayer at the end of the day. We'd add it on to our closing prayer whenever we were gathered together with the family, and I think we'd do well to institute that practice again. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer" (Psa.19:14).
       55. Can you pray that and mean it with your whole heart now? I sure hope so! That oughtta be the prayer on your lips each and every day of your life--lest you arrive Here to a rude awakening when you have to give account of every idle word!
       56. Will you be a fool or a wise man? There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is destruction! Don't let it happen to you! Don't let your tongue run wild, wreaking havoc and destruction upon those around you! Don't let your tongue become bitter and critical to your own hurt or the hurt of others!
       57. Fill up your heart and mind with Jesus and you won't have any trouble knowing what to say. Keep full of His Words--that's the best safeguard you've got! Don't be found a fool! God help you if you are! Remember, you have the power of life and death in your tongue, so use it wisely. Use it to minister faith, hope, love and peace.
       58. For the sake of others, watch your words! For your own sake--your very life's sake--watch your words! They'll bless or curse, they'll lift up or tear down. What are your words doing? Will you pray this prayer along with me and make it your prayer each and every day of your life? "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer!" Hallelujah!
       Love, Dad (End of message from Dad.)

       Some Dandy Bad Examples!
       59. {\b \i (Mama:)} The above messages from the Lord and Dad say it all! I hope that by now we've all gotten the point and are determined to have a radical change in this area, bringing into submission that little member--our tongue--which can cause such hurt to others.
       60. If you haven't yet been on the receiving end of such criticism, slander, gossip or unkind words, you might not understand how it can be so devastating. Or perhaps you've let your words go unchecked for so long that it's hard for you to even recognize what kinds of comments fall into this category. So I'll give you a few true-life examples which we've heard about to put some skin on these bones.
       61. You might be shocked to hear that some of our Family members would actually say things like these to their brother or sister, but it's happening, folks! And from what we hear, it's happening often. You may also be guilty, so take heed!

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       62. A few young people have written to us, explaining that they've made the choice to go to a difficult or faraway mission field, such as China, Nepal, India, etc. When they broke the news to their friends and peers, they were met with responses such as: "Why are you throwing away your life? Don't you know you're not going to have any fun out there in boonie-land!" Or, "So you're going to join the 'un-cool crowd,' huh? What's gotten into you?" Or, "You're giving up your independence and freedom. Besides, that's a crummy field!"
       63. What were these young people supposed to think? Well, they were heartbroken; heartbroken that their peers and friends--those they love and whose opinions are important to them--couldn't be more supporting and encouraging of their decision to launch out and be a missionary, to fulfill the call of Mark 16:15.
       64. They were disillusioned; disillusioned that other Family young people would have such a negative response to their desire to simply follow the Letters and the New Wine by heeding the call to reach these fruitful fields and to do something with their lives. Just think about how much harder these unprayerful and out-of-the-spirit comments must have made it for these dedicated young people to go on with what the Lord was asking of them!

  • * *

       65. One young woman who was called by the Lord to a behind-the-scenes ministry has received a fair bit of flak from some of her peers for saying yes to Jesus. Granted, they might not want to be in her shoes, but the Lord isn't asking them to be. But He did ask her, and she freely chose to do what the Lord has asked of her. And the Lord, by the way, has blessed her with a great deal of training and input in her new situation.
       66. Thankfully, in this case the young woman herself didn't have to personally hear these disparaging comments from her peers, because she moved to another field. Nevertheless, a number of her friends and peers haven't held back from telling other people what they think about her choice. "She's a fool," one young person said. "She's just being a ladder-climber," another said. "So, is she getting 'in' with the top?" another asked.
       67. Mind you, all these comments were made in direct reference to this girl's choice to do what the Lord was asking of her--His perfect will for her life. What do you think gives you the right to judge other people's lives, especially from such a distance, much less to share your negative feelings with others? These kinds of unprayerful comments, made off the top of your head, seldom reflect at all how the Lord is working in the person's life. And they're just as hurtful when the person involved hears about them second- or third-hand.

  • * *

       68. It seems another popular area for openly criticizing someone's choice is in the area of pregnancy. Pregnancy is a big topic, and the many aspects concerning making the decision to have full sex, being prepared for the possibility of pregnancy, etc., are very important and should be considered and prayed about prior to a pregnancy occurring. However, right now I'm only dealing with the situation after the fact: When a young single woman gets pregnant, she is often barraged by comments from her "concerned" peers. But how much "concern" do these comments really show? Do they build up or tear down?
       69. "What a stupid thing to do! Now you're going to be stuck with this kid for the rest of your life!" Or, "What an idiot! You've just ruined that guy's life, because now he has to feel responsible for you and the baby." Or, "You just threw all your teen and SGA years down the drain." "I would have been more careful if I were you. Didn't you realize that this could have happened?" Likewise, the guy also hears similar comments: "What did you fuck her for? Now you're going to be stuck with her," etc.
       70. Those are all strong negative statements. Maybe you think, "I'd never say something like that!" Well, somebody out there is saying them, because we've heard about it. But there are milder, more subtle ways that you can also bring someone down. For example: "Oh, I'm so sorry for you! I wish there were something I could do about it." Or, "How did it happen? Were you not being very careful?" or "Wow, you're really young to be having a baby!"
       71. A number of young single mothers-to-be have also reported that many hurtful comments are hurled at them concerning the father of their unborn baby. Things like, "He's so irresponsible to have gotten you pregnant," or, "What kind of guy would get a girl pregnant without marrying her first?" Worse yet, if the woman has been sharing with more than one man and isn't sure who the father of her baby is, she really gets razzed and is tagged as a "slut" or "loose girl" or with other such horrible labels.
       72. In accordance with the individual's prayer and choices in the matter, the Lord has blessed them with a new life--a baby, straight from Heaven! The Lord expects you to be supportive, encouraging and loving, showing some joy at the fact that she's going to be a mother and has been given a special treasure, rather than tearing her down and discouraging her! Children are a blessing of God, not a curse! The Bible calls them the "heritage of the Lord," and Jesus said that those who receive them in His Name receive Him. They're His dearly beloved children and dearly beloved parents, and He's not pleased at your discouraging words!

  • * *

       73. Closely related to the above example is a situation where a family already has a number of children, and the mother gets pregnant again. Sometimes her teenage children or other Home members will say things to show how they personally disapprove of their decision to keep having more children, or will talk amongst themselves about how they should stop having kids, use birth control, etc.

  • * *

       74. Another sad example is where a young person has chosen to commit themselves to a very needed but perhaps less glamorous ministry, such as childcare. Despite the fact that childcare and teaching help is one of the Family's greatest needs, this young person's peers or friends may belittle the ministry and pooh-pooh what this young person has chosen to do. Through their words and attitudes, they make the poor person feel inferior and discontent, that they're "just a childcare person," and that they're missing out on all the fun and excitement. Comments like, "Watch out, you'll be stuck in childcare forever!" also don't minister encouragement or increase your vision. When you voice those thoughts, you're speaking the Devil's own words.

  • * *

       75. We're very aware that the Family chat sites (such as the member's only Chat Zone, etc.) and the Family discussion groups on the member's only web site are sometimes breeding grounds for unedifying conversation. I'm sure you enjoy having these chat sites where you can touch base with Family members all around the world, but the purpose of these should be to uplift one another and provide a place for positive communication, not to post messages and personal comments that are out of line with the Word, or are foolish, negative, sarcastic, hurtful and a bad sample. If the standard doesn't go up in this area, then these chat and discussion sites should be shut down! And those of you who read bulletins or messages that are portraying the wrong spirit should speak up and say something about it. Stand up for your faith! God bless those of you who do, and who use these sites constructively!

  • * *

       76. Again on the subject of sex and marriage, there are a number of other sad stories we've heard. Apparently some people feel quite free to discuss others' sex lives, which is unloving and unacceptable. You may have heard the "sex lowdown" on someone you've never even met, and have probably gotten negative impressions about them as a result. Some common lines are: "So-and-so will have sex with anyone." "He/she is cheap." From there, it degenerates to more explicit comments about specific sex acts, which ones various people will perform, etc. This should not be a topic of conversation, folks!
       77. When two young people are deciding to get together, or the woman gets pregnant, which leads the two of them to seek the Lord about getting married, comments also fly. Some people actually tell either the guy or girl to their face things like, "You could do much better for yourself. What do you see in him/her anyway?" Or, "You're so stupid for doing this. Don't you know that he/she is like such-and-such?"
       78. When children are involved, it's even more serious. We've heard that many folks make comments which sound general, but in reality are pointed against the person they're sharing them with. Let's say that Bill is planning on marrying Susie. Bill's friend Jamie says things to him like, "I think I'm just going to stay single my entire life, because every couple eventually breaks up. I mean, no young couples' marriage has worked, so why get married? Well, you can do whatever you want, and I wish you the best, but that's what I'm going to do."
       79. Jamie is not directly criticizing Bill, but it's clear that he's criticizing or questioning Bill's choice, which puts Bill in a difficult position. Undoubtedly, Jamie hasn't prayed about his comments either, so his words are only ministering confusion and doubt. Besides that, this extreme statement of no marriages working out is untrue. Every couple does not break up, and although many couples have separated for a variety of reasons, including mistakes made on both sides, it still doesn't mean that a marriage ordained by God--with lots of love, prayer and humility added by both the man and the woman--can't work.
       80. Now let's look at the scenario of a couple that isn't doing well. They're having marriage difficulties, and others in the Home can see it. You should be praying for them, but instead, we've heard countless reports of gossip being spread far and wide about the poor couple, which can't possibly help to mend their relationship. People feel free to talk about what a bad person the husband or wife is, discuss whether they're involved with someone else, etc. Soon this couple's private lives and personal problems are being discussed and critiqued by everyone. As the information is passed along the gossip line, facts are altered and misrepresented. That's gossip and slander. You end up judging people's lives, and it isn't any of your business!

  • * *

       81. Relating to the topic of sex--which is always a hot one--the question of whether a fellow peer practices loving Jesus can also draw stinging statements. Let's say a few young people find themselves in the middle of an informal conversation about sex. Should the subject turn to including Jesus in your intimacy, we've heard of disparaging comments being made about young people who have chosen to bring Jesus into their lovemaking--comments which infer that those who have chosen to put the New Wine into practice are inferior performers in bed, or that the sex loses some of its luster. Those folks don't know what they're talking about, and they obviously haven't experienced the enrichment and heat that loving Jesus can bring your sex life!
       82. Others feel free enough to judge another person's choices right in front of them, by making comments like, "Are you really into loving Jesus? Isn't that kind of weird? Whatever floats your boat!" Comments like these tear down others and their faith and choices, and are not in accordance with the Word or the Charter.

  • * *

       83. Then there's the Law of Love, which some of you seem to view as a shooting range that you can use for target practice! Those who have tried to put aspects of the Law of Love into practice have received plenty of criticism, and even outright nasty comments to their face!
       84. In situations where two young women have been sharing with the same young man, or are both close to him, they've heard comments like, "If my boyfriend was dating someone else, I'd dump him!" Comments like that indirectly put down these young women, and can also sow division between them. You're basically telling them that they're idiots, and that they should "get themselves out of this mess" as soon as possible. In reality, the Lord may be using this experience in their lives to teach them to be loving and giving. If your degrading words cause them to act selfishly, to be anti-Law of Love or to choose the System manner of relationships, just remember that you're going to have to give account of each of those words before God one day!

  • * *

       85. Are your words in line with His Words? Are you striving to see things the way the Lord sees them, the way Dad has taught us in the Letters? Or are you leaning on worldly ways or carnal thought patterns and voicing doubt and discouragement to others? Why not work to build up others with your words instead of destroying their faith and conviction?
       86. Aren't those examples heartbreaking?--And those are just a few. Please, please get desperate with the Lord to stop this slander, gossip, and the hurtful words that are flying about, injuring and discouraging so many! Let's strive to make our words positive, uplifting, encouraging and faith-building! Amen?

       Examples of the Power of Your Words!
       87. Here are two more true stories received in prophecy which portray the effect our words can have. These spirit stories are sobering, and I hope they give you some fear of the Lord, to realize what unkind words can lead to in someone's life. If the Lord expects a certain standard of System Christians, those who often do the bare minimum for Him, how much more should we be desperate with Him, knowing how far our words go as His representatives! Each of your brothers and sisters in the Family is serving the Lord, just like you are, and deserves your respect and support in the spirit. God help us not to be guilty of allowing the Enemy to use our words to bring discouragement and despair to anyone--much less those who are fighting by our side, who the Enemy would love to hinder and hurt!

       The Elevator
       88. I used to gossip and think nothing of it, telling myself that I was only having fun in talking about other people behind their backs. But all that changed one day in an elevator.
       89. I was doing business in a very tall building downtown that I don't normally frequent. The office I had to go to was on the 26th floor, so I stepped into the elevator with several other people. By the 16th floor, everyone had gotten out except for a young man and myself. 18[DELETED] 19[DELETED] 20[DELETED] 21. I watched the numbers light up as the elevator rapidly approached my floor. But midway between 24 and 25, there was a screeching sound and the elevator ground to a halt. Then silence.
       90. The young man shifted his feet nervously as I stared in disbelief. I reached for the emergency telephone and called reception, letting them know of our predicament. They said help was on the way.
       91. "Shucks!" I said after I'd hung up, "I was going to floor 26! Which floor were you headed for?" The young man barely looked at me and didn't answer. Maybe he's claustrophobic, I thought, poor fellow. "Oh well, may as well make the best of it," I said aloud as I took off my jacket and slid down to a sitting position on the carpeted floor of the elevator. After hesitating a moment, the young man also slid to the floor, opposite me, with a heavy sigh and a half-amused but resigned look on his face.
       92. Ten minutes passed. 15 [DELETED] 20. I called reception again on the emergency telephone. They said the electrician was "tied up," but would be there as soon as possible. I resumed my seat as the young man chuckled and said aloud, "Just my luck."
       93. "Are you missing an appointment too?" I asked him. He looked at me, opened his mouth as if to say something, looked away, then looked at me again, searching my eyes. He half smiled and said, "Did you ever hear the poem, 'I have a rendezvous with death'?"
       94. I searched for a reason, hoping I could think of one better than the obvious one. The young man was looking at me and slowly said, "I was heading for the top of the building."
       95. Suddenly I was so thankful that the electrician had been tied up. I was also scared to death! Here I was, stuck in an elevator with a man who wanted to end his life. What I said or didn't say might have a profound effect on whether or not he would live to see another day.
       96. "Why do you want to do it?" I said, asking the most obvious question. Robert--which I later found out was his name--hung his head and said, "I've been humiliated beyond belief. My fiancée is embarrassed to be around me, my father has publicly disowned me, and I've discovered I have no true friends."
       97. I was silent. He went on, "It all started with a jealous coworker who started some malicious rumors against me at work. He said he'd seen me wandering around after hours in a drunken state, and that I'd come on to one of the younger female office workers. My boss even asked me about it! I denied it up and down and tried to make him and my other coworkers see that it was just a fabrication from a jealous rival, but that's when the worst began.
       98. "Instead of believing in me, some of my so-called 'friends' helped pass the rumor along, till it got around to my fiancée. She was horror-stricken! We had a terrible argument, with her insisting that there must be some truth in the rumors since she'd heard them from my friends. I told her that I would probably think the same if I were her, but it just wasn't so! Anyway, instead of being sorry, my friends just gave me the cold shoulder. I know they felt bad that they'd helped those rumors along; they thought they were just having fun, but now it was out of hand and they didn't want to associate with me!
       99. "I got more and more depressed. My work was suffering, and my boss gave me a few days off to pull myself together. My fiancée wouldn't let me in her apartment, so I started drinking. I know I shouldn't have; it was like pouring gasoline on a fire. I was involved in an extremely embarrassing incident in a bar, which was when my father bailed me out of jail, and then he disowned me."
       100. I had been silent all this time, just listening, not knowing what to say. Robert had related all this to me in a monotone voice, as if all the pain and hurt didn't even matter anymore because soon the heart that was hurting so bad wouldn't have to beat anymore. My own heart was hurting. I thought of my dear wife, my friends, my father. I thought of the decent job I had.
       101. I looked at Robert, and he continued. "The last thing my fiancée said to me was that she wished she'd never met me, and that she couldn't marry a man with a disgraced name. Those so-called friends were the only ones I had. I only had one parent--my father. My mother passed on three years ago. What would you do if you were in my shoes?"
       102. The question startled me out of my reverie. Yes, what would I do? It's pretty hard to live a positive life when everyone you love and trust has let you down and knifed you in the back. I was being asked the most difficult question of my life. My voice trembled as for the first time I truly put myself in Robert's shoes. There were no sermons now, no pretty speeches. If Robert didn't jump today, he would tomorrow. In my heart I called out to the only One Who could answer Robert's question.
       103. I looked into Robert's eyes, praying that I wouldn't sound trite in this, his darkest hour. Before the words passed through my lips, the tears were streaming down my face. I felt like jumping off a building myself.
       104. "I would pray," I said simply, in a voice barely above a whisper.
       105. Robert closed his eyes, the tears also coming now. There, in a dimly lit, broken-down elevator, I poured out my heart to God as never before. Aloud, I asked God to forgive me for all the times I had been careless with my words to the hurt of others. I told Him that I wanted another chance, that in this one life I had to live I wanted to make a difference in others' lives, and that I wanted that difference to be for the better.
       106. I felt as though I'd been the one who had hurt Robert. After all, the people who had done so much wrong to his soul and his will to live were probably not much different than me. By the time I was done, it was Robert's turn. He too made peace with his God, asking for another chance at life, asking for the hope to live it. It seemed like hours passed in those small confines.
       107. Well, the electrician finally showed up, and while two strangers had entered that elevator, one a suicidal man and the other a man who needed a change of heart, there now emerged two renewed creatures. Robert and I became the best of friends. How could we not after going through that together? I invited him home for dinner that night, and for many nights afterward.
       108. Slowly Robert's life was pieced back together. He met another woman. He got another job. His father, sick and dying, finally received him back with open arms. God blessed him with a family. And God had blessed me too. He gave me the opportunity to see how very short life can be and how far-reaching the very damaging effects of hurtful words are--as well as how far just a little kindness goes!

       Are You Giving Life or Bringing Death?
       109. We've heard many times before of the effects of one kind soul who saved a person from utter humiliation and ridicule with just one kind word, an understanding touch, a hand of friendship. But here's a story of a person who had no such friend in their greatest hour of need, and the devastating effects gossip had upon their life.
       110. Kimberly had always been the object of practical jokes, because she was so naïve and fell for every one. She was also the brunt of many unkind jokes in our conversations amongst ourselves, albeit behind her back. Once in a while one of them would waft her way, but in her innocence of spirit she would brush it off, believing--hoping--that as long as she tried to be agreeable, the other preteens would like her, talk with her, and include her.
       111. Her parents were divorced, and she helped a lot with her younger brothers and sisters. Her dad would visit every couple of weeks, but the atmosphere was always tense during that time, as her parents refused to put aside their differences for the sake of a pleasant time. But Kimberly put on a brave face at school, and many of her peers had no idea of the load she pulled at home, or the responsibility she had to take on for her young age.
       112. The other kids might not have been malicious at heart. "It was all in sport," they would tell themselves when someone would be left in a pool of tears. Perhaps their own easy lives were poor training grounds for developing virtues of sympathy, kindness, and love toward their peers. Life was all jostling for the best of seats, or food, or goodies, and belittling the meeker and seemingly weaker people like Kimberly.
       113. Summer was approaching, and the school would hold a pre-vacation camp for Kimberly's class. Everyone was looking forward to this time of camping in log cabins, marshmallow roasting, and a half day of canoeing up the narrow river. Kimberly didn't want to leave her mother with all the work at first, but after many assurances that she would be fine for three days, Kim finally conceded, giving her mother a hug.
       114. The bus ride to the camp site was somewhat uneventful, although three of the loudest guys were huddled together for most of the trip, whispering and seeming to plot something "special" for this event. Kimberly just read a book and kept to herself.
       115. After setting up camp that afternoon, everyone gathered firewood from the surrounding wooded area and built a large bonfire where they cooked their hot dogs, then ate them in buns with mustard and ketchup. Later in the evening all the kids told jokes and spooky stories.
       116. As jokes are prone to do, they slowly deteriorated into less tasteful ones, until one of the boys couldn't resist and gave some riddle about what has four eyes, no friends, and reads all day. Everyone paused for a moment. Kimberly hadn't really been paying attention; she was staring into the fire and thinking about the far-off lands she would like to travel to one day. However, she was rudely awakened from her reverie as she heard her own name and a roar of laughter. She looked puzzled, but this only made the kids laugh more, as they realized she hadn't been listening.
       117. Realizing they were laughing at her and making fun of her, Kim ran to her cabin and curled up in her bed, with tears in her eyes. As she drifted off to sleep, she wondered what she did to make her peers dislike her so much.
       118. The next day was beautifully sunny with just a light breeze. After everyone had lunch at noon, a couple of the boys walked over by Kimberly, who had been avoiding the rest of the kids all morning and was sitting at a wooden picnic table at the edge of the clearing they were in. Ted walked up to Kimberly with a funny sort of grin on his face and his hand behind his back.
       119. Kimberly secretly liked Ted. They lived on the same street and sometimes she would happen to walk with him on the way home. When he was apart from his other friends, Ted was quite nice to her, and they had kind of a secret friendship, though Ted never talked to her in front of the other kids. So Kimberly was surprised to see him, and even more surprised when he said he was sorry that all the kids had laughed at her the night before, and not to worry about what they said.
       120. Then he pulled a beautiful wildflower out from behind his back, purple and yellow, and shoved his hand out to her. He looked kind of embarrassed, but Kim didn't know why. She was touched by this unusual gesture. She reached for the stem of the flower and Ted let go, immediately turning and walking away. Kim wondered why he'd left so abruptly, and why the other boys standing at a distance were doubled over with laughter--till she looked down to the flower only to see an empty stem in her hand, and the flower head lying on the ground. It had been cut beforehand. With tears in her eyes, Kim scooped up the other half of the flower and ran into the woods behind her to be alone.
       121. Well, the camping trip just progressed from bad to worse for poor Kimberly. She came back from the woods a couple of hours later only to find out that she hadn't even been missed, and that most of the kids were playing a game of capture the flag in the woods. She was told by the cook that if she hurried quickly she could catch up with them. Following the general direction the cook had pointed, she walked to find the rest of the gang. She was feeling better after her time alone, and was determined not to let herself get down about Ted or about the other kids not liking her. The afternoon sun slanted through the trees, making the shadows deepen.
       122. When she finally did find some of the kids, it was the same boys from earlier in the day, including Ted. Kimberly blushed to see them, but they hardly noticed her and only stopped long enough to complain that she'd caught up with them. It seemed they were lost, though they didn't want to openly admit it. By now Kim didn't know which direction she'd come from either. The sun was setting and the air was getting cooler.
       123. The boys were clambering over rocks and through bushes in the direction they thought they had heard some voices, and Kimberly did her best to keep up with them.
       124. I wince with pain as I stand before the small monument, hat in hand, thinking on that evening so many years ago. You see, I'm the guy who did the flower trick--Ted.
       125. We finally heard our teacher and some other kids calling our names from a distance, and headed in that direction. Somehow we'd crossed the narrow river and now had to get back over. We boys climbed up a particularly large boulder which connected with several others that would take us across, but Kim couldn't climb up it. One of the other boys quipped that the riddle could now say, "What has four eyes, no friends, reads all day, and can't climb?" The other boys chuckled and I'm sorry to say, so did I. I mumbled down to Kimberly that she could do it if she really tried, but it must have been the straw that broke the camel's back. Kimberly stumbled through the bushes to the right, yelling behind herself that she'd find another way across just a little further down, and catch up with us.
       126. Well, we made it across fine, and I told the guys to walk slower so we could let her catch up with us. But Kimberly didn't come. I stopped. Was she still looking for a way across? I decided to wait a bit with another guy while the other kids went on ahead to meet up with the rest of the class. Ten minutes passed. Still no sign of Kimberly. The crickets were starting to call to each other.
       127. I heard noises in the bushes behind me and the teacher came through them with a concerned expression on her face. The other guys had told her what Kimberly had said about finding another way across the river, and she had come to find Kim. I stumbled through the bushes with her and we went downriver a bit. To my surprise, just 15 meters away from where we'd crossed was a small waterfall--so that's what that noise had been--and the ground dropped away on either side. "Where is she?" I said aloud to myself, as we looked around.
       128. We crossed the river again to look around, and suddenly my eye caught sight of a broken branch leaning over the drop. My heart almost stopped. I yelled as I ran to the edge and looked over, and there was Kimberly ten feet below, lying motionless beside a large rock, close to where the waterfall pooled. We scrambled down. She had blood on her head. She must have still been running when she came to the drop and fell straight down, hitting the rock. A faint moan came from her lips when the teacher touched her arm and called her name.
       129. We got her back to camp, where they drove her to the nearest hospital and she went into emergency care. She was hanging by a thread when her poor mother showed up at the hospital. Kimberly lay in a coma for two days before passing on. It took weeks for the school to recover from the shock of her death. Somehow we just hadn't seen it coming.
       130. Well, we kids all went back home from our outing a day early, very sober and quiet. A week after Kimberly died, her mother showed up at our door and asked to see me. She didn't say much except that she'd found a flower pressed between a piece of paper in Kimberly's pocket from the day of her accident. She pressed it into my hand. I opened it to see a purple and yellow wildflower, with the words "From Ted" scrawled on the paper. I felt the tears coming hot to my eyes and turned away in embarrassment, but her mother called me back. She wanted to share with me a short poem she'd also found in Kim's pocket from that day. I took it and read:

       Dear Lord, when others make me sad,
       Thank You for again making me glad.
       Thank You for flowers, and grass, and trees,
       For the birds that sing, and for the bees.
       Help me, dear Lord, to find a friend,
       My broken heart, dear Lord, please mend.

       131. I looked up at Kimberly's mother, feeling terrible, though wiser. She looked pale and tired, but there was kindness in her eyes as she thanked me for being a friend to Kimberly, and for the times I'd walked home from school with her. I hugged her and we both cried together.
       132. It was a long time before the weight of Kimberly's passing was lifted off of me, because I know if just one of us--if I--had had the guts to give her just one sincere word of kindness that day, she wouldn't have run off, and the accident would never have happened. So I don't think I'm exaggerating when I conclude that our unkindness to Kim ended her life prematurely. It was the beginning of a new life for me and many of my friends. Kimberly taught us how short and how fragile life is.

       The Power of Gossip!
From Awake, June 8, 1991

       Negative gossip is almost universally frowned upon. Among the Seminole Indians of the United States, "talking bad about anyone" is put in the same category as lying and stealing. In one West African community, talebearers risked having their lips cut off, or even worse, they risked being executed! Indeed, throughout history, measures have been taken to curb gossip.
       Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the so-called "ducking stool" was popularly used in England, in Germany, and later in the United States to try to shame gossipers into quitting their harmful chatter. One found guilty of the offense would be tied to a chair and repeatedly ducked in water.
       Gossip often reveals a very dark side of human nature, a side that delights in tarnishing reputations, distorting the truth, and destroying lives.
       In English the word "gossip" basically means "idle talk," chat about trivial matters. There is a rather basic reason for gossip: People are interested in people. Naturally, then, we are prone to talk about other people. As Max Gluckman, an anthropologist, once stated: "Every single day, and for a large part of each day, most of us are engaging in gossiping. I imagine that if we were to keep a record of how we use our waking-time, gossiping would come only after 'work'--for some of us--in the score."
       When moderate and kind, casual talk may serve to exchange useful information, as a means of catching up on the latest goings-on. All too often, though, idle talk strays beyond the bounds of propriety and good taste. Facts are embellished, exaggerated, or distorted. Humiliation is made the source of humor. Privacy is violated. Confidences are betrayed. Reputations are injured or ruined. Things worthy of praise are obscured by complaining, murmuring, and faultfinding.
       That no harm was intended is of little solace to the one spoken about. Harmful gossip has thus been compared to mud thrown on a clean wall. It may not stick, but it always leaves a dirty mark.
       Unfounded rumors and misinformation have often provided fuel for harmful gossip. During the American Civil War, endless vinelike strands of telegraph lines were strung between military posts. The "grapevine" thus became a symbol of unconfirmed news, and the expression "I heard it through the grapevine" became a popular excuse for passing on unfounded rumors.
       Unfortunately, the grapevine often yields bitter fruit. Rumors have been responsible for panic, death, and havoc. The cost to business alone has been incalculable. One fast-food restaurant chain spent more than a year combating a false rumor that its hamburgers contained worms.
       Envy and hate are often at the root of the most destructive form of gossip--malicious gossip, or slander. The Greek word for "slanderer" is {\i di-á-bo-los,} the word translated in the Bible as Devil (Revelation 12:9,10). The title fits, as Satan is the great slanderer of God. Like Satan, some speak about others with evil intent. Sometimes the motive is revenge, as a result of hurt feelings or jealousy. In any case, they seek to advance their own interests by murdering the good name of others.

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family