Sunday, July 7, 2013

How NOT to Eat My Words

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God
James 1:19-20
Slow to Speak
One of my grandchildren did something which made Grandma an unhappy camper.  I had told this particular grandchild on numerous occasions not to do something which could be harmful to them and others, but they chose to do it anyway.  Said grandchild could tell by my face I was upset, especially since another grandchild did get hurt.

After dealing with the injured child, I wanted to react to the situation by yelling and saying some unsavory words to the guilty child but, by the grace of God, somehow managed to hold my tongue and leave the room.  I went into a bedroom, sat in an easy chair and began to pray asking the Lord to calm me down while also requesting a large dose of wisdom.  Once I felt fairly rational, I sat with my grandchild while we talked about the incident, why it was a dangerous thing to do, and about specific consequences if it happened again.  We prayed together and were able to resolve the conflict peacefully with positive results.

The outcome could have turned out differently.  It could have ended with a yelling match between the two of us which, to be honest, has happened in the past.  I have found when I react to a situation instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me first, it doesn't resolve conflicts and those involved get hurt.  If I'm slow to speak it saves me from trying to take back words I wish were never spoken and it prevents an argument from escalating.  It saves me from eating my words which, seasoned with harshness, never leaves a good taste in my mouth.

Application of God's Word

1,    When we're quick to speak without really thinking things through, we do have the potential of deeply hurting someone.  Do you agree or disagree with the adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?"  Explain your answer.

2.  Read James 3:2-12.  This is a dismissal picture of a tongue run amok.  Can the tongue be tamed?  What hope is there for us as Christians?

3.  Read James 3:17-18.  God will give us the wisdom we need to be swift to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  My tongue can be tamed once my spirit is tamed by "the inward workings of the Holy Spirit."  I've used that phrase a lot but it is true.  When I draw near to God and allow Him into those inner places of my heart, He brings healing and freedom.

Personal Matters

When I was about 16 years old my mother and I got into a heated argument because all my friends were able to do something which she forbade me to do.  I thought she was being totally unfair and unleashed my fury on her.  I remember yelling, "I hate your stinkin' guts.  I wish you were never my mother."  Of course, I didn't mean those words but I'll never forget the pain on my mother's face once I spewed those horrible words all over her.  Occasionally in dreams I will relive that regrettable moment.  The good news is God's grace is sufficient and He has forgiven me and the sin is covered by the blood of Jesus.  After a couple of hours, I went to my mother asking for her forgiveness.  She did forgive me but how I wished those words had never been uttered.

Truth be told, what was in my heart really did Matthew 12:33-37...the bottom line is I wanted my way and wasn't getting it so I threw a hissy fit and lashed out at the one who was really trying to protect me from an unsafe situation.  I suppose even now as an adult that's what it boils down to many times...I lash out with hurtful words because I'm not getting my way or someone isn't living up to what I wanted from them.

When I am swift to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, it is the fruit of righteousness being evidenced by the workings of the Holy Spirit in me.  I do desire to learn to die to myself daily so that out of the good treasure of my heart good things will come, including words which build and encourage others and not tear them down. 


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