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PROVERBS 26:20-21 NKJ 
20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; 
And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. 
21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, 
So is a contentious man to kindle strife. 

As I read these two verses, I see them from an organizational as well as an individualistic perspective.   

From an organizational standpoint, a talebearer can wreck a culture. The word talebearer is also translated gossip, slanderer, and whisperer. A person who slanders others can add fuel to a fire that should not be burning.   

The contentious man, someone who is constantly causing arguments, is trouble in an organization but can really hurt a marriage.   

Having been a pastor for 25 years and married for close to 40 years. I can speak from experience to both verses.   

I was sitting in my office one night after a Wednesday service and heard some staff talking down the hall. Then their voices went to a whisper, and I knew whatever was being said was wrong. Sure enough, I had some whisperers on staff, and they were causing problems. I freed them up to pursue other opportunities outside of our staff. When they were gone, the strife and drama were dramatically reduced. Where there is no wood the fire goes out.   

My experience with the contentious man was much more painful because I was that person in our marriage. Joy looked at me one day and declared, "I think you just like to argue." I don't know if I liked to argue or just thought I had to win every situation, but I kindled way too much strife in our marriage. Thank God that by His grace and a determined effort to change, I am no longer a contentious man.  Still have to keep my temper in check, but the strife in our marriage has been almost totally eliminated. No charcoal or wood to fuel the wrong kind of fire.   


If you have a gossip or slanderer working with you or for you, do what you can to confront them or fire them. Strife and drama can really take a toll.  

If you are a slanderer, gossip, or contentious person, make a serious concerted effort to change your ways. When it comes to strife, no one wins. Don't be the fuel to the wrong kind of fire. The fire that consumes and does not warm.