A Hot Potato

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. – James 3:5-12 NKJV.

A talebearer (gossip – NIV) reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. – Proverbs 11:13 NKJV.

Hot Potato is a children’s game, with those playing standing or sitting in a circle. Something small like a potato, ball, or a beanbag is tossed from one player to the next while music is playing. When the music stops the player holding the “hot potato” is out of the game. The game continues until just one player is left. The game is sometimes played without music, and someone shouts out “hot” instead of the music stopping. I can remember playing the game a few times when I was a child.

The Chinese military appears to have their own version of the “Hot Potato” game. There is a video that originally appeared on state owned Chinese television showing soldiers passing around a live explosive device. Each soldier holding the device counts to six prior to passing it to the next soldier. The soldiers are standing around a hole in the ground and just before the device explodes the last one holding the device throws it into the hole. All of the soldiers than dive away from the hole to protect themselves when the device explodes. The device in the video does appear to explode, and all of the soldiers survive without injury. (Chinese state television, Daily Telegraph, Huffington Post, Youtube 01.24.12)

There is another type of “hot potato” that we sometimes pass around called gossip. Gossip is defined by Dictionary dot com as being, “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” Gossip, just like the Chinese device can sometimes explode causing tremendous damage. However, unlike the Chinese explosive device, gossip is much more unpredictable. No one knows when gossip may suddenly explode, and no one knows all of those who may be hurt by it. Sometimes, just the person the gossip is about is hurt, although usually the last person passing the gossip is also harmed. Just as in a war, when an explosive device goes off, there will nearly always be collateral damage caused by gossip. Once we speak the words with our mouth there is no way to bring them back. Once we speak the words with our mouth there is no way of knowing who will eventually be hurt whether the gossip is true, or whether it is not.

Have you ever been the person responsible for spreading the gossip? Nearly everyone has been at some time or another including me. Have you ever been hurt by gossip? Nearly everyone has been at some time or another; I know I have been. What should you do when you hear some juicy bit of news about someone else? Drop it! And run, because it may go off at any time! It’s a “hot potato!” We are told in Ephesians 4:29 NKJV, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” The New Living Translation says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” May my words, may your words, always be encouraging to those who hear them…or hear of them.

(Gossip, is a “hot potato” that may explode at any time.)

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