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Monday, December 23, 2013

Guard Your Tongue From Calamity Or--In Other Words-- Sometimes You Should Just Shut It.

If your friend is lying on the train tracks because he likes feeling the vibrations, and you know a train is scheduled to hurtle toward him at a rate of 100 miles per hour, as it does without fail every day, what will you do to get him to move?

Will you yell at him and tell him what a loser he is, what an idiot he's being? How stupid he is to lay there and how many laws he's breaking?

Will you smile and pat his arm, telling him it's his decision to make and you love and support his right to do so?

Or will you implore with wisdom and tact in your conversation, reminding him that, while ultimately it IS his decision, there is another way? A better way? A way that doesn't have to end in carnage and death?

When we see someone doing something we believe to be wrong, why is our reaction so often anger and resentment, as evidenced by certain words and phrases to express our displeasure?

If someone is, in fact, conducting themselves in a manner that we believe to be sinful (even if the Bible backs us up in that belief), why do we so often respond with angry, venomous reactions?

Unfortunately, I am guilty of this. I am scratching my head trying to figure out why I respond like that? How I can watch someone's abysmal life choices or even see something someone has posted or "liked" on Facebook and go into an immediate inner rage. I will then recount to myself all the ways they suck.

And I console my own guilt about having these thoughts by saying, "I'm just thinking this...I'm not telling anyone else what I think..."

Except the only problem with that is that God knows my thoughts. :-/

That's why 2 Corinthians 10:5 says "...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Sadly, my thoughts tend to be like free range cows...they roam everywhere grazing on whatever they like.

And "big" issues like have been in the press this past week come up and everyone and their brother chimes in. Every blogger under the sun thinks her voice should be heard and the wars waged in the comments section make me want to slam my phone repeatedly on the table.

So many voices fighting to be heard and fighting to be "right."

Each one thinking his opinion is correct and so many quick to tear to shreds those who disagree.

So many "Biblical scholars" -who have clearly not cracked open a Bible- willing to define what Jesus thinks of different things--all the while casting stones from the comfort of their Starbucks booth. Keyboard warriors I heard them called once. It's very fitting. And not a term I want attached to me.

I'm just a girl with a laptop who likes to share.

I have no credentials except from the School of Life.

I am not a "writer" simply because I like to write and I can, on occasion, string a few sentences together that resonate with someone.

And I am most definitely NOT an authority on what is in the Bible. Although many things are absolutely crystal clear, I cannot even begin to rebuke every area with any authority.

And I wonder...how often is my passion about an issue or a "wrong doing" I see in someone else's life a result of my desire to see them set free from the sin and how often, if I'm being completely honest with myself, is it the result of me wanting them to toe the line like I have to.

How many times do I metaphorically stomp my foot and say "It's not fair! If I have to follow the rules, so do they!"

How often am I angry or threatened because someone is "getting away with" something I would love to, but don't because I am convicted about it?

I think that often times the message can be scriptural and dead on, but the messenger is so consumed with the wrong motive that the message is missed or falls flat.

In my newest Beth Moore study: Daniel, I came across some things that were so appropriate for this past week and for life in general.

In Daniel 2:14, as King Nebuchadnezzar's head executioner sought out Daniel and his friends to kill them (by order of the king), Daniel spoke to this man and the Bible says he used "wisdom and tact." And it saved their lives. The executioner listened.

Like in Colossians 4:6 (MSG):

"Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."

Am I bringing out the best in others when I give them a verbal dressing down? Am I "cutting them out" when I tell them in no uncertain terms what an infinitesimal failure at life they are, lovingly book-ended with scripture?

There's a happy medium here...a sweet spot...and I am struggling to find it.

I don't think we need to be screamed at or insulted into repentance, but neither do I think we are all going to skip together, holding hands, to the gates of Heaven after spending a lifetime sweeping each other's sins under the carpet.

I think it starts with our tongue. And how we speak to one another. It won't matter if the words are filled with God's Truths if they are spewed with such venom that the receiver can't withstand the flames to hear the message.

We have to stand up for God's Word (Isaiah 58:1). That's clear in the Bible. We're called to give an account for our faith (1 Peter 3:15) and we are called to address conflict head on, based upon God's Word (Matthew 18).

But how to do that is where I get in trouble sometimes.

Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)-"Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit--you choose."

Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)- "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift."

It seems appropriate at Christmas that the verse from Ephesians came to mind again. I want to give you a beautifully wrapped present filled with the most amazing gift--the kind that ultimately makes you feel loved and is delivered with humility. Not the booby prize; the fake poop gift you see at tacky parties. The gift that leaves you disappointed and left wanting, possibly angry at the gift giver.

And that's how I'll leave you. With the thought of fake poop. :)

Merry Christmas!
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