Monday, February 12, 2007

Oops, Did I say that?

Have you ever struggled with foul language? Over the years I have gotten better with this, however, I still slip once in a while and say things that I regret saying and I'm ashamed I've said. Usually these words that I regret saying come out after I've been frustrated or angered in some way. Of course those are the times when I'm not really focused on living for Christ, but rather my own selfishness. I'm amazed at how quickly I can say something I regret and I'm not just talking about foul language. I can also say something that's hurtful to others. I can say things that I wish desperately I could take back, but as you know... it's too late for that, then I'm forced to deal with the consequences and impact of my words. If only I could control my speech.

You know... the bible has a lot to say about our speech. I've been reading in the book of James lately and of course when I came across this passage of scripture, I immediately thought about my own weaknesses in this area.

James 3:6 says this... (6) And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Wow! No wonder there are severe consequences when we say things we shouldn't. When I read that it can set my whole life on fire... I think back to times that I've had to do damage control because of the things I've said. Usually we say things that are hurtful without regard for others and then later regret it because after we've settled down we realize that what we said we really didn't mean. We were just angry or upset. That doesn't make it OK of course and I guess that's why we have to go through the hell that our tongue has created for us. After all... the bible tells us that the tongue is a flame of fire, set on fire by hell itself!

James also tells us that we can not control our tongue.

James 3:7-10 says this... (7) People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish. (8) but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. (9) Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those that have been made in the image of God. (10) And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

So what hope is there for us then if we know that our tongue is filled with this deadly poison? Do we cut our tongues out to avoid such speech? Well that doesn't work does it, you are after all reading what I'm saying right now, so even though I'm silent, I'm still being heard.

The best answer that I have for us is this... Verse 7 says that People can tame all kinds of animals and birds etc, but we can not tame the tongue. The reason being is that the tongue reflects our heart. It says what we feel without regard for who we hurt. It says what we want even though we know we'll regret it later. I'm reminded of why this happens. This battle that goes on within us everyday of our lives. You know the battle... the Spiritual battle within us, our new nature and our old nature battling for control of the way we live and the things we think say and do.
Do you remember the times when you've said hurtful things, or let loose of those foul words you're ashamed you even know? When you did that, what was on your mind at the time? I'll bet it wasn't concern for someone else was it? In all my times that I think back, the poison flowed from my tongue because of what I was feeling, what I was suffering, or what I felt was wrong towards me. I lashed out because I was hurt in some way. I guess the point I'm making is that the focus shifted from Christ to myself in every case. It's true, I can't tame my tongue, but I believe that Christ can. But for that to happen it's like all other areas of sin in my life. I have to be obedient and willing to follow the Holy Spirit within me. If I don't, well then look out!

So what do we do?

  • Pray, pray, pray. we need to stay connected with Christ. Allow God to take control of us through His Spirit.

  • Read and Study His word. We have to listen and react to whatever it is that God is revealing to us through our bible study. If we never input His word, think about all the other junk we input all week long instead. Who do you think we'll sound or look like? Jesus or the world?

  • Repent and ask for forgiveness. Satan wants you and I to carry this load of guilt and burdens around so we are virtually ineffective for Christ and His work. We all know that with Christ we can do all things... but Satan knows that with our guilt we can do nothing because our sin blinds us and we forget we have Christ. So repent and accept the Lords forgiveness.

Let me give you one example of why we need to repent and ask for forgiveness. If we don't we won't be effective.... As a supervisor I'm required to hold people accountable for their work performance. Let's use the issue of attendance for example. How can I hold those folks that I supervise accountable for their attendance if I too have attendance issues. What happens is, I don't do it. Basically I become ineffective in my role as supervisor over this issue because I know I've got the same problem. It's the same with our speech, we feel ashamed of our behavior and how can we lead other people to having a relationship with Jesus with the example we set. This is why we need to repent and ask for forgiveness. We need to be made righteous so we can be effective for the Lord in whatever it is He wants us to do.

So I assume that if I'm having problems in the area of my speech or I'm having to deal with the consequences of what I'm saying, then maybe, just maybe, I need to refocus my attention on Christ. This I do know... Christ wouldn't say, think, or do the things that I do almost every day. My goal has to be to become more like Christ and allow His Spirit and truths to permeate my heart if I have any hope of watching what I say. I know in my weakness... my tongue will and does protect itself at all cost. Let's look at what James says in Chapter 3:15-16...

James 3:(15) For jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual and demonic. (16) For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

So what hope do we have? Tapping into God's wisdom is the answer!

James 3:(17) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shoes no favoritism and is always sincere.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus. Thank you for this lesson today. May I always be mindful of You and be obedient to You in all areas of my life. Lord I know that if I'm not sensitive to Your leading then I risk saying things that can be hurtful, nasty and self centered. I do it too often. Forgive me Lord. Please watch over me and the things I say. Amen

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