A worthless person, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,
winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
points with his finger,
with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing discord;
therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
(Proverbs 6:12-19 ESV)
A wise husband studies and knows his wife. He knows the things that she may be sensitive to. He knows what “pushes her buttons” and he comes to know the things that would make her shed tears. A good husband knows these things and does not do them. He doesn’t just carelessly say, “Ah, this might hurt her feelings but oh well, it’s funny, it’ll get a laugh from the guys”. No, a good husband doesn’t even take the chance.
One of the things that the Lord says that he abhors is “sowing discord among brothers”. Notice in the list the six things he hates, seven that are an abomination. This is a poetic way of highlighting the Lord’s hatred of one sowing discord among brothers. Of course that begs a question, “what constitutes sowing discord”?
From the context we know that this discord comes from a wicked heart that manifests itself in crooked speech. The idea of one “going about, winking, signaling, and pointing” shows that this person has his aim to cause conflict, to exploit situations, and to gain personal advantage*.
Just as I know my wife and want to be cautious and I never desire to cause her harm, so also I know that the LORD abhors the one who sows discord among brothers. I want to be cautious not to be that guy. I can probably cut out a good deal of discord sowing just by checking my heart before I blog or comment. But at the end of the day I also know that my heart can be fooled. So I ask three questions before writing an article that could be in the ballpark of sowing discord among brothers.
Three Questions for Articles I Write:
- Is my goal to expose or shame a brother? If we are talking exposing a wolf, then it’s not sowing discord. Some people might be upset and accuse me of sowing discord because I say that the teaching of prosperity teachers is whack and that they are wolves in sheep clothing. That’s not exposing a brother that’s telling your sheep to watch out for a wolf. But there is a different type of “exposing” that goes on in some popular blogs. They follow a typical formula. Person X said “blah blah” but I’m not sure that he really believes that because he also said “blah blah”. If I’m trying to expose some vast conspiracy or the heart and motivation of another person I’m probably off my rocker.
- Am I trying to make my audience pick sides between two polarizing people? I think I have at least bordered on guilt in this one in the past. If I say something like John Piper teaches X, Joel Osteen teaches Y, and then ask who is more biblical? I think I’m sowing discord. If my goal is to say that Piper is biblical then I should just say that and not use the article to take a shot at Osteen. If I think Osteen is teaching something against Scripture then I should compare him to Scripture alone and not throw Piper in there as well. Because at the end of the day all that does is creates Piper followers and Osteen haters (or vice versa) and that’s not the goal.
- Am I misrepresenting somebody? If I say that somebody believes something then I should be able to print off my article, hand it to them, and have them say, “yep, that’s what I believe”. If I make logical jumps, inferences, etc. and say this is what you really believe no matter how many times he disagrees with what I think he said then I’m sowing discord because I’m causing a headache for a guy that doesn’t even hold a position that I am accusing him of.
Three Questions for Commenting:
- Am I engaging in a “dude did you see this?” If I find an article of somebody dogging my friend, or another figure, its pointless for me to go to his website and then link to the guy that disagrees with him. It’s just sowing discord. It’s really no different than in your everyday life if you overheard gossip and then told your friend, “dude, do you know what Tom said about you”.
- Would I say the same thing with both parties present? If my story would change and the way I represent one persons position then I’m sowing discord. If I am bold in trashing a guy behind his back but not when he is there I should shut my yapper and stop sowing seeds of discord.
- Am I encouraging the online community to pit people against people or people against Scripture? This is very similar to #2 above just in the realm of commenting. If an article disagrees with Piper then it might be best to summarize his point and tell why you think he is more biblically persuasive rather than just saying, “Piper disagrees”, then providing a link.
At the end of the day a deluded heart will probably read through this list and say, “I don’t do that”. I have a discernment ministry and I’m always exposing wolves. A more humble heart will read through these and add caution to his/her blogging and commenting. For me, if God says He abhors one who sows discord among brothers I am going to be pretty cautious about doing anything that may look like sowing these seeds.
*I got that from my ESV Study Bible