There’s always a price to pay for not taking a stand. Once I had some people in our church who made secret accusations against me. They spread lies and caused some newer people to stop coming, which hurt me very much. When I asked the perpetrators to share their concerns with me, they refused to tell me what was wrong. Eventually they left the church.

My story has been repeated ten thousand times over in churches across the US and around the world. Disgruntled people are everywhere, ready to share their dissatisfaction with the first unsuspecting person they come across. Do you know the only one who can stop them? No, it’s not the pastor. It’s not the elders, deacons, choir director, or youth pastor. It’s the person who is strong enough to take a stand, cut the conversation short, and stop the dissension in its tracks. This is the person who says, “I don’t want to hear it,” “Let’s go talk it over with the pastor,” or “Why don’t we pray about this together right now?” This person puts out the fire before it has a chance to hurt other people.

How would you like to show up for church on Sunday, only to find the church had been burnt to the ground? Closer investigation reveals that someone in the church knew about the blaze, but didn’t speak up. That’s the kind of damage which can occur in a church when someone spreads discord and no one is willing to take a stand. It is an awful price to pay.

Do you know people who don’t like the pastor or another member in your church? Be wise and keep your distance from them because their attitude is contagious. It only takes a spark to get a fire going. If you are the kind of person with whom people often share their negative opinions (or if you are the person spreading negativity), then today is a great day to put an end to this practice. Discord will affect others in the church. Pray for courage to take a stand and put out the fire.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder