Summary: Friendly Fire is when you are hit by the ammunition from your own troops. How many church members have been injured from our friendly fire?
Introduction: A few years ago, back in 1990, we were involved in what was known as the Persian Gulf War. Our troops took on the Iraqi forces out in the desert of Kuwait. In those two months, January and February, we won an outstanding victory, and we had relatively few casualties. One of the interesting things about that war was the majority of our troops weren’t injured or killed by the enemy. They were the victims of what is called “friendly fire,” from artillery.
Friendly fire is a phenomenon where you are hit by ammunition by your own troops. In other words, it’s where your own soldiers become your worst enemy. You can’t prepare for it, and you never see it coming.
Right now in the church today, our biggest enemies aren’t from outside, they’re from within. The weapons that are used aren’t rifles and missiles. It’s our own words and attitudes. A lot of fellow church members are seriously wounded because the results of friendly fire. Nonbelievers avoid some of our churches because they know they’ll be landing in the middle of a war zone.
How many of our church folk become victims of friendly fire? How many times have you been a victim of friendly fire? More important, how many times have you attacked a fellow brother or sister with friendly fire?
It’s a sad day when Christians of the church of Jesus Christ become victims of each other because of gossip and ridicule. You can’t prepare for it, and you never see it coming.
A. You have heard it said that talk is cheap. Nothing could be further from the truth.
1. Talk can be costly, and can be the thing that stands between us and blessing or a curse.
2. The man who said “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was dreaming.
a. The best thing about sticks and stones breaking your bones is that your bones will heal and be as good as new eventually.
b. A well-placed insult can hurt for life.
B. It’s interesting that friendly fire is one of the few things that can destroy a church.
1. Persecution or a major tragedy can’t destroy a church. In fact, in most cases, it will strengthen it.
a. If you want to boost up church attendance right away, start a war or have Christians be hounded and jailed for their belief. Or set churches on fire. The congregations will fill right up!
b. But if you want to have the numbers drop like flies, and split churches wide open, start a couple of rumors about the usher board. Before long, people will come to church in foul moods, and after a period of time, they’ll stop coming entirely.
2. A lot of churches came as the result of church splits.
a. Casualties of friendly fire.
II. We can destroy with our words.
1. Women aren’t the only ones who gossip.
2. Gossiping is composed of half-truths and outright lies.
1. What happened to Julius Caesar.
2. It hurts as bad when attacked by a trusted friend.
D. A field of victims.
III. James 3:3-12.
A. We can be judged by our words.
1. As Christians, in many cases, our biggest testimony is our tongue, especially at the workplace.
a. We can glorify God, or put him to shame.
2. Talking about our coworkers.
3. Our sense of humor.
IV. Our words are deeds. People can’t always see what we do, but they can always hear what we say.
A. Besides the destructive power of words, we need to remember that words can heal as well.
1. Hurting people.
2. Damaged people.
3. People who are looking for something more.
B. Proverbs 12:18.
V. What can we do?
A. Here’s four tips on how to prevent friendly fire.
1. Listen up. Put more focus on listening for facts, not talking aimlessly.
a. James 1:19.
2. Stand up. Make a stand for the truth.
a. Defend your faith, church, pastor.
b. Stand up for Jesus.
3. Speak up. Use words of encouragement and healing
4. Shut up. There are times where it’s best not to speak at all.
a. Proverbs 10:19.
b. That quote your mom gave you is good advice. If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.
Conclusion: We need to follow the example of Jesus, who didn’t tear people down, with his speech, nor used idle gossip. He made his words deeds. If you don’t know Jesus’ example, maybe it’s because you don’t know him. If so, come to know him today.
C:\My Documents\Friendly Fire.wpd
April 5, 2001