Christianity 201

October 6, 2013

Did I Say That Out Loud?

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Speak No Evil

Yesterday, just before we closed, we included a link to a related post by Dianne Guthmuller. Today, I want to feature her writing here. This topic seems to come around here rather frequently; maybe God is trying to tell us something!  It appeared at her blog under the title Pass Me The Duct Tape. You’re encouraged to click through and discover other excellent articles on her blog, which is a daily Bible study similar to what we do here.

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Luke 8:1-3, Mark 3:20-230, Matthew 12:22-45, Mark 3:31-35, Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 8:19-21, Mark 4:1-9, Matthew 13:1-9, Luke 8:4-8, Mark 4:10-20

And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.  The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. Matthew 12:36-37

Every idle word…

Lord help me!  I’m in trouble.  Where’s the duct tape?

I looked up the word “idle” in Word Studies in the New Testament hoping for a reprieve, but none was to be found…

Idle (ἀργὸν). The word is compounded of ἀ, not, and ἔργον, work. An idle word is a nonworking word; an inoperative word. It has no legitimate work, no office, no business, but is morally useless and unprofitable.

Friends, Jesus wasn’t just talking about profanity, He was talking about gossip, criticism, whining, complaining, etc; anything that isn’t adding value to people’s lives.

Let’s look at the context in which this verse is written (Matthew 12:22-37).

Jesus was getting it from all sides:

  • The crowds were following Him everywhere; He couldn’t get enough time to Himself to grab a bite to eat
  • His family was trying to pull Him away from the crowds saying, “He’s out of his mind”
  • The teachers of religious law were saying He was possessed by Satan

When the teachers accused Jesus of being possessed by Satan He took great offense, not because they were doubting Him, but because they were speaking against the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit; which the religious leaders should have recognized.  Jesus gave a timeless warning that had grave consequences against speaking against the power of the Holy Spirit.

It was in this serious setting that Jesus warned us about idle words.  He prefaced His warning with a word picture, which was the common way to communicate in Jewish culture.

A tree is identified by its fruit.  If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. –Matthew 12:33

If our heart is good our words will be good.  If our heart is bad our words will be bad.

In Jesus’ day the only words they dealt with were spoken words; very few people could write. Fast forward 2,000 years…how many words to you speak, write, type, or text in a 24 hour period?

Before you run to the garage and get your duct tape, remember Jesus sees and know our heart, so even if we keep our “idle” words from coming out, we’re still accountable for them.

What can we do about our idle words?

Don’t focus on the words…

Focus on getting your heart tuned into the Holy Spirit; ask Him to create in you a clean heart (Psalm 51:10) and your words will follow.

Heavenly Father, we want our words and our heart to be pleasing to You.  Lord, You made us, You know our human failings. Please forgive us when we fail; speak loudly to us when we do.  We say with David, create in us a clean heart.  Jesus, make us like You!

In Your Holy Name.  Amen and Amen!

August 27, 2013

When Words Sound Awkward

This is from the blog of Janelle Keith, where it appeared as When Clumsy Words Come.

Words can hurt

There are days when I can’t put words to the hurt.

“Dear God, please help me handle the clumsy words that will come my heart’s way. May I respond in gentle answers. Even when I don’t feel like it.”

I have been bruised by so many words by myself. Because I have been given a sensitive spirit to words, I wonder about those bruiser words we say and receive.

Who hasn’t been on the stinging end of an emotionally charged zinger? From ourselves to ourselves?

Backed by the truth only found in God’s word, I can put the negative self-talk in the corner to rest a bit. Oh yeah, every now and again it peeks out. But I am getting better at this.

It was the day that left me rubbing my eyes filled with tears and wondering, “What did I say that was wrong?” The day that I was blindsided by criticism…again. Man, criticism cuts so deep and lingers, bouncing it’s way in our hearts, and settles hard.

Why is that we have rolled out the red carpet for access to our hearts? All it takes is one harsh word to start an avalanche of an ocean of emotions. Just one…and it hangs out and has an after party too, wrecking and wreaking havoc on our wounded hearts. Just a little poison is all it takes.

Words that are harshly said, just hurt. When people are critical it pierces. And no matter who you are, or what you do or how much chocolate you have at your disposal, one little kiss of harsh tones combined with words said without grace only breeds poison. And it spreads like the plague. It can choke, stifle, and shut down the most pleasant conversations. And it kills us, we who have those creative spirits. It numbs and suffocates.

I really wish we could take a little love pill and make it all go away. When hurtful words hit, no matter the delivery, there is damage. Especially when the clumsy words are not said under the umbrella of grace, of God’s love and mercy. Whether you are the one doing the damage or the one receiving the damage, emotional repair is needed.

Words are powerful. They have the gift of life or death. The tongue is a mighty force to be reckoned with. God’s Word to me are a charge that every word should be wholesome.

Hey…did you know that purity should rule our speech too?  Love should guide our thoughts, grace should spill out of our mouths.

Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (NLT)  The NIV version uses “unwholesome”.  The Message says, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

Say only what helps. Criticism doesn’t help. Pointing out failures doesn’t help. Correction, without love, is unkind.

Are your words pure? Only when you are in a good mood? Or when things go your way? Read those verses again…

Let each word be a gift. Our words should always be a gift. A gift to others and to yourself. Something to treasure, to hold with esteem, wrapping each syllable with love. God’s Love is something to give to others and ourselves, when we consider it a gift that we would a give to someone that we love.

A gift of love, so should our words be.

So about those words that just bust out of our mouths, the ones we blurt out in the car on the way to church, or when we have had a really bad day at the office, when we don’t feel loved or don’t love ourselves? I don’t think you need my help filling in these blanks…do you?

Lysa TerKeurst recently put this as her Facebook status ~ “Don’t let people’s compliments go to your head and don’t let their criticisms go to your heart.” Could it be that really our insecurities or inadequacies are speaking?

Whatever your word motives are, if you are using worthless language to anyone including yourself, then those words are not driven by love. I know those that unwholesomeness doesn’t build the body of Christ, it only destroys and tears. God has shown me that when you internalize the criticism you tend to say about yourself, you soon become the very criticism you are telling you.

In my search for Christ’s identity I have uncovered who I am not. I am ashamed to tell you that I had to do quite a bit of digging, to see God’s lovely inside of His wholesome. I found a few scarred places that are healing now. Nothing can tear my redeemed label up or apart because my wholesomeness is healing from God’s heart of approval.

Knowing Wholesome is what protects my heart from the criticism of others, including my own criticism of my own flaws, failures, and fabrications. My unwholesome rule has to apply to myself, like it does to you. I must not let self-criticism slice through my heart, spurred by negative or unhealthy thoughts. That kind of self-negative talk is contributing to the contamination of the perfecting work that God is doing on my holiness journey.

Don’t take part in the giving of unwholesome language. Your words matter…to God, to you, to others.

So what should our response be to those emotional charged zingers and clumsiness that spills and spews? Our response should be one said of holiness by acknowledging that we are all God’s workmanship in progress. By staying calm, using self-control and not lashing out in anger, it will add peace and not add fuel to the fire. There is no restoration in compounding the hurt with more hurt.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2

When practiced, the fruit of the Spirit can be such a calming gift love. A gift of words.

A gift.

Let your words be a gift to yourself and to others. How do you handle people who hurt you with words?