Some people are like billy goats. Why? Because they go around "but-ing" everyone! They will say, "But," every time they hear something that they don't want to accept. Even when you tell them the truth, they start to but, but, but!--just like a billy goat. "I like what you are doing, but...", "He's a nice man but...", "Yes, I know you are right, but..."
There once was a very "but-ing" woman who did not like what a certain Godly old pastor would say to her. One day the old man's words were more than she could bear. It was the truth "but" it made her so angry that she really began to "butt". She went everywhere telling lies and evil stories about him. She tried very hard to turn all of the people against him with her terrible talk and gossip. But the more she talked the sadder she became. At last she was very very unhappy, and began to feel sorry for all the lies she had told.
Finally, in tears, the woman went to the pastor's house to ask him to forgive her, "I have told so many lies about you," she said, "please forgive me."
The old man did not answer her for a long time. He seemed to be deep in thought and prayer. At last he said, "Yes, I will forgive you, but first you must do something for me."
"What do you want me to do?" she said, a little surprised.
"Come with me up to the bell tower and I will show you," he said, looking straight into her eyes, "but first I need to get something from my room."
When the pastor returned from his room, he carried a big feather pillow under his arm. The poor woman could hardly hide her surprise and growing curiosity.
The flustered woman could hardly keep from asking what the pillow was for, and why they were going up to the bell tower. However, she kept silent, and a little out of breath they finally reached the church bell tower.
The wind blew softly through the big open windows of the bell tower. From the tower, they could see far out into the countryside that stretched out beyond the village.
Suddenly, without saying anything, the pastor ripped open the pillow and dumped all of the feathers out of the window.
The wind and the little breezes caught the feathers and carried them everywhere: Out onto the rooftops, into the streets, under cars, up into trees, out into the backyards where the children were playing, and even out to the big highway, and on and on farther still into the distance.
The pastor and the woman watched the feathers flutter away for some time. At last the old man turned to the woman and said, "Now I want you to go and pick up all of those feathers for me."
"Pick up all of those feathers?" she gasped. "But that is impossible!"
"Yes, I know." said the pastor. "Those feathers are like your lies about me. What you have started, you cannot stop, even if you are sorry. You may be able to tell a few people that you lied about me, but the winds of gossip have carried your lies everywhere. You can blow out a match, but you cannot blow out the great forest fire that one match can start! "Even so the tongue is a little member. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth." (James 3:5)