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Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
– Proverbs 26:20Verses 20-22 form sayings about the gossiping busybody. The word for talebearer means whisperer, and the word for strife means quarrel, or contest. The image of a fire is apt as a picture of gossip. James used this image when referring to the tongue and the destructive power it holds (James 3:6). The two phrases parallel. Talebearing, or gossiping, is to strife as wood is to fire. It is the fuel. If you do not add wood, the fire will burn out. If you do not add gossip, strife will stop. Proverbs identifies several sources of strife—hatred (Proverbs 10:12), dishonesty (Proverbs 16:28), anger (Proverbs 15:18; 29:22; 30:33), pride (Proverbs 13:10; 28:25), foolishness (Proverbs 18:6; 20:3; 26:17), belligerence (Proverbs 26:21), and gossip (Proverbs 17:9; 26:20).
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