There is no foolproof formula for recognizing sowers of discord, but Solomon wants to train us to be discerning.
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 (Prov 6:12-15, ESV).
1. Take note of crooked speech (Prov 6:12b)
Do they twist words to win sympathy? Do they label their complaints as “concerns,” their anger as “frustration,” or their bitterness as “misunderstanding”? Have they failed to forgive? Do they always have questions but never any answers?
2. Consider body language (Prov 6:13a)
When around people who offend them, do they roll their eyes, grimace, or shake their heads? Do they make eye contact with you when the other person turns away? Does their posture communicate disrespect or defensiveness?
3. Refuse to join the gang (Prov 6:13b).
The Sower of Discord “points with his finger” in an effort to persuade others to join his team. He’s a sneaky communicator, and his destructive power lies in his ability to recruit. Whenever someone has a complaint against another person, your best response is, “did you talk to that person about it?”
Sowing discord is one of the most prevalent and most disregarded sins in the church today. We think of gossip as something that happens on daytime talk shows, and we ignore it in the fellowship hall. We think slander deserves discipline only if it’s intentionally and overtly deceitful. Perhaps we’ll confront those who purposefully spread bad reports about others, but Proverbs is just as concerned to confront those who endorse those reports by giving them a hearing (Prov 26:20-28).
This passage convicts me thoroughly. I am as guilty as anyone of speaking ill, sowing discord, and fighting unity. I have shared details I didn’t need to share. I have discussed the failings of my supervisors with my subordinates. I have asked for the low down on specific people, and I have entertained conversations that went in the wrong direction. I have asked Jesus to change me, and I wrestle my self-importance daily.
If you are broken by this text, there is much hope for your repentance and healing. You can act as glue to reunite the shards of your once-vibrant community. You can unleash Christ’s redemptive glory in your church, and he can restore his body to full and proper functioning. Learn to recognize the characteristics of the Sower of Discord, and exterminate them from your heart and your church.
But if you find yourself still making excuses for sowing discord (or for aiding and abetting others to sow discord), you’ll be ruined before you know what hits you (Prov 6:15). God doesn’t like it when people mess with his wife.
Question: What else helps you to recognize sowers of discord?