Fightin’ Words

Fightin’ Words


On May 30, 1806, Charles Dickinson, an attorney from Nashville, TN, and Andrew Jackson engaged in a duel on the Jeff Burr farm. Charles Dickinson was a famous duelist and as he confidently walked to the farm he would fire multiple shots with his pistol to show those around who they should bet on.

 Dueling was illegal in Tennessee so they made their way just a hair over the state line into Kentucky. It was on the bank of a river where over eighty people were buzzing with excitement as they gathered to watch. 

 Dickinson and Jackson had each taken twenty-four steps and then faced each other with pistol in hand. Both men glared at each other; sweat beading on their brows. This moment had been a long time coming and it was Jackson who had the most to lose, his good name. 

Dickinson raised his pistol and shot first. The bullet hit Jackson in the shoulder but he was still standing. It’s reported by an eye-witness that with one hand Jackson pressed down on the bleeding wound and with the other he took aim— and shot. His bullet hit Dickinson square in the chest and he collapsed to ground.

 Andrew Jackson would recover from his injury and become the president of the United States. Dickinson, however, would die The quarrel that had escalated to a duel to the death began with derogatory rumors that were spread by Dickinson about Jackson’s wife, Rachel. 

Four Ways To Guard Against Gossip 

  1. When speaking of negative qualities: Say things that only need to be said.
  2. Speak only things that would likely help the person being discussed, and no more. 
  3. Know your end game and why you’re saying what you’re saying. What do you hope to accomplish? 
  4. Most importantly— handle it biblically. 

Romans 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:20 – Both differentiate gossip from slander and condemn it as the result of a “depraved mind.” That’s strong language! 

1 Timothy 5:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:11 – Both condemn “busybodies” who “speak about things not proper to mention.”

“Busybodies” – “busy about trifles and neglectful of important matters”

Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private…” 

This implies resolving the matter one on one. Gossip is just the opposite. Gossip is like breaking something that’s already broken and that makes a situation even harder to fix. 

Galatians 6:1 – It must be a public matter if someone was “caught in sin.”

1 Timothy 5:20 – Paul tells Timothy that an elder who “continues in sin” should be rebuked “in the presence of all.”

Ps. 141.3 “set a guard over my mouth, a gatekeeper over my lips.”

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