A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are as a scorching fire. A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends. Proverbs 16:27-28 (The New American Standard Bible)

Splitting wood is hard work. An old dairy farmer told me years ago never try to split wood while it’s warm and wet; it’s best to split wood in the winter when it’s frozen. Driving a steel wedge into the chunks of silver maple with a maul last night brought his wisdom back to mind. Intertwined wood fibers simply absorbed the energy of each blow, greatly resisting my efforts to separate it into the smaller pieces necessary for fitting into the wood stove next winter. I should have tackled the task in February when the wood was still frozen.

In some respects the analogy can be applied to the intimate relationships we enjoy in Christ. When warm and lively, these relationships resist the attempts of a few to separate us from each other and our close fellowship with the Savior. When relationships become cold and rigid, wedges can easily be driven, dividing even the most intimate of friends.

Father, protect us from people who would “maul” us and try to separate us from the love of Christ and from each other. Keep our relationships warm and alive so that we might resist the wedges of slander and strife. Amen