by: FCC Staff
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
We all have areas in our life where we need to show repentance. As we learn and grow in our faith, the word of God, and the Holy Spirit sometimes other believers can point out things we had not considered and as a result, we have to repent. That means not only are we what we know is wrong, but instead doing the opposite.
We also need to examine our opinions as we share them, and reflect on them afterwards as we do. So often we are quick to rush to the defense of our chosen viewpoints. To drop a party line, a convenient talking point or a sarcastic observation towards those with whom we disagree. And in today’s social and political environment this has been reduced to simple, one-line slogans we toss at each other. Oh you say this? I say that. Knee-jerk, unthoughtful responses and vast generalizations which accomplish little more than fermenting more strife and division.
Paul had some advice to Timothy, a man he was a mentor to in the faith. He wrote to him saying,
“Here’s a statement you can trust:
If we died with Him,
we will live with Him.
If we remain with Him,
we will reign alongside Him.
If we deny Him,
we will be denied by Him.
If we are unfaithful,
He remains faithful,
For He is not able to deny Himself.
Remind others about these things that I’m telling you. Warn them before God to stop their useless bickering over words. After all, splitting hairs does no good; it only ruins those forced to listen to their meritless arguments.” (2 Timothy 2:11-14)
And Paul was writing Timothy to not split hairs over matters of faith, to argue endlessly about the definition of words, words they found in scripture! How much less then should we be caught up in endless debates on things of this world?
And while we are to speak the truth in love to others, vitriolic outbursts in “defense” of the gospel aren’t warranted and necessary. Yes, there are those who are going to get the message wrong, twist and cajole scripture into saying whatever it is they want. Paul wrote the Romans about this to, addressing what their attitude should be when even the people of God get it wrong, “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:3-4)
We see things that are objectionable to us all the time, but again Paul speaks up, directing the Philippian church, “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) That’s what we are to focus on.
Yet too often, we do the opposite: "have you heard this lie? Seen that outrageous behavior? See this injustice? Look at this depravity. I’m calling out this hate. What fools these people are! Look at this failure. Shame on you for doing this." We’re focused on the wrong things, and we SAY the wrong things. Before we speak the truth in love, why not stop to consider if what we are about to say lines up with what the biblical definition of love is?
Is this patient, is it kind? Am I envious, boasting or proud? Is this going to bring dishonor on someone else? Am I saying this to make me look good? Am I reacting out of anger? Am I mad about something in the past, that I should have forgiven by now? Am I happy to see others lost in evil, or do I choose to rejoice in those who have found truth? Am I protecting others, extending trust, offering hope and holding fast to my commitment to Christ? This is the “Love” section of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. We are comfortable reading that text at weddings, it’s so sweet. Great in a valentine’s day card for your beloved too. But this definition of love isn’t just for our sweethearts, it’s for everyone. Even our enemies. Especially our enemies.
Right before this “love passage” Paul said this, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-3)
So today, before we speak, let’s do as our proverb for today recommends and think about our response first. Without love, our words AND our other actions are meaningless. And like a clanging cymbal, downright annoying. Let’s grow in our faith so we can see a change in our thoughts, words, deeds and in our hearts. As Paul observed, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) Let’s be the mature, wise, emissaries of God we are called to be. Let’s think before we speak.
Prayer for Today
Father, set a guard before my mouth today that I may not speak before I think. In matters of importance and matters of everyday life, let me be loving and merciful to those around me. Jesus show me by your example what it means to be wise in what I say, grounded in the word of God and the will of your Father. Bless me with your Holy Spirit, that I can be discerning in what say and when and how I say it. Mold me more in your image today Lord. Amen.