For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish -- that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 2 Corinthians 12:20
Some things are fast.
The cheetah can run at 75 mph, and sailfish have been clocked around 70. A peregrine falcon can do 200 mph, and an Oklahoma tornado was monitored at almost 300. Of course, all these are slowpokes compared to the average lightning bolt, which rips at 224,000 mph.
Last month a University of Arizona research team added a new "really fast" thing to that list. That item was a germ-covered doorknob.
To see how fast a single-germ covered item can spread, the team took a harmless virus to an office, which had three entrances. They put that virus on one of those entrances. Amazingly, in four hours, that virus had been carried to half of the surfaces in the washroom, meeting and dining areas and, even worse, was on the hands of half the office staff.
The findings that were shared with the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy shows how fast a virus can move and how quickly it can be spread.
Now even though I haven't done a scientific study, I'd like to add one more item to the list of fast things. My entry of fast-moving things would be a rumor. That's right, a rumor. It can be the kind of rumor someone makes up as a malicious joke or to hurt another person, or it can be the kind of rumor which arises from an individual's sincere concern.
As near as I can see, the speed of a rumor is not based on the intentions of those who created it. No, the quickness of a rumor's spread is in direct proportion to the story's darkness and the damage it can do. In other words, big damage equals high speed.
Knowing the damage which can be caused by a swift-moving rumor, the Savior warns, "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander" (Matthew 15:18-19). In our text above, Paul echoes what the Savior had to say.
All in all, Christians are warned: they need to watch their tongues.
Instead of gossip and rumor, we should -- how did Paul say it to the church in Thessalonica? -- "encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Think for a moment, consider all the church battles which might never have happened, all the feelings which might not have been hurt, all the personal wounds which might never have been sustained if we had "encouraged one another and built each other up."
At the very least, such attitudes would have slowed the rumors down.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, You created some things to move fast. Other things -- things like gossip and rumors -- You would love to see stopped dead in their tracks. Grant that my tongue may be in compliance with Your wishes. This I ask in my Savior's Name. Amen.
Check out Lutheran Hour Ministries' video sermon series, "Footsteps of Paul." Click here!
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"